Abstract

We show that optical properties of dense biological tissues can be determined from backscattered power curves measured by a low-coherence reflectometer. Our measurement approach is based on a first-order scattering theory that relates the backscattered power to the total and backscattering cross sections of scatterers in a turbid medium. As a validation of the technique, measurements were made with a commercially available reflectometer on suspensions of polystyrene microspheres having known optical properties. With this reflectometer, which employs a 1300-nm LED source that emits less than 20 μW, we found that skin tissues could be probed to a depth of nearly 1 mm. Estimates of optical coefficients of human dermis and of a variety of excised animal tissues are given.

© 1993 Optical Society of America

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