Abstract

The degree of polarization of light propagating through scattering media was measured as a function of the sample thickness in a Mach–Zehnder interferometer at a wavelength of λ = 633 nm. For polystyrene microspheres of diameters 200, 430, and 940 nm, depolarization began to appear for thicknesses larger than 23, 19, and 15 scattering mean free paths (SMFP’s), respectively, where the coherently detected scattered component dominates the ballistic component. For large particles (940 nm) the initial polarization survived partially in the scattering regime and progressively vanished up to the detection limit of our setup. This phenomenon was similarly observed in diluted blood from 12.5 to 280 SMFP’s. Beyond this thickness the fluctuating parallel and crossed components of polarization became random. A dual-channel interferometer allowed us to detect simultaneously the low-frequency fluctuations of both polarized components through a few millimeters in liver tissue.

© 1998 Optical Society of America

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