Evolution from static to dynamic label-free thermal imaging has improved bulk tissue characterization, but fails to capture subtle thermal properties in heterogeneous systems. Here, we report a label-free, high speed, and high-resolution platform technology, focal dynamic thermal imaging (FDTI), for delineating material patterns and tissue heterogeneity. Stimulation of focal regions of thermally responsive systems with a narrow beam, low power, and low cost 405 nm laser perturbs the thermal equilibrium. Capturing the dynamic response of 3D printed phantoms, ex vivo biological tissue, and in vivo mouse and rat models of cancer with a thermal camera reveals material heterogeneity and delineates diseased from healthy tissue. The intuitive and non-contact FDTI method allows for rapid interrogation of suspicious lesions and longitudinal changes in tissue heterogeneity with high-resolution and large field of view. Portable FDTI holds promise as a clinical tool for capturing subtle differences in heterogeneity between malignant, benign, and inflamed tissue.
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