Polarized light propagation in biologic tissue and tissue phantoms

Vanitha Sankaran*, Jay Walsh, Duncan J. Maitland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Imaging through biologic tissue relies on the discrimination of weakly scattered from multiply scattered photons. The degree of polarization can be used as the discrimination criterion by which to reject multiply scattered photons. Polarized light propagation through biologic tissue is typically studied using tissue phantoms consisting of dilute aqueous suspensions of microspheres. We show that, although such phantoms are designed to match the macroscopic scattering properties of tissue (i.e., the scattering coefficient, μs, and scattering anisotropy, g), they do not accurately represent biologic tissue for polarization-sensitive studies. In common tissue phantoms, such as dilute Intralipid and dilute 1-μm-diameter polystyrene microsphere suspensions, we find that linearly polarized light is depolarized more quickly than circularly polarized light. In dense tissue, however, where scatterers are often located in close proximity to one another, circularly polarized light is depolarized similar to or more quickly than linearly polarized light. We also demonstrate that polarized light propagates differently in dilute versus densely packed microsphere suspensions, which may account for the differences seen between polarized light propagation in common dilute tissue phantoms versus dense biologic tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-62
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
EventSaratov Fall Meeting '99: Optical Technologies in Biophysics and Medicine - Saratov, Russia
Duration: Oct 5 1999Oct 8 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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