Abstract

Constructive interference between coherent waves traveling time-reversed paths in a random medium gives rise to the enhancement of light scattering observed in directions close to backscattering. This phenomenon is known as enhanced backscattering (EBS). According to diffusion theory, the angular width of an EBS cone is proportional to the ratio of the wavelength of light λ to the transport mean-free-path length ls* of a random medium. In biological media a large ls*0.52  mm  λ results in an extremely small (0.001°) angular width of the EBS cone, making the experimental observation of such narrow peaks difficult. Recently, the feasibility of observing EBS under low spatial coherence illumination (spatial coherence length Lscls*) was demonstrated. Low spatial coherence behaves as a spatial filter rejecting longer path lengths and thus resulting in an increase of more than 100 times in the angular width of low coherence EBS (LEBS) cones. However, a conventional diffusion approximation-based model of EBS has not been able to explain such a dramatic increase in LEBS width. We present a photon random walk model of LEBS by using Monte Carlo simulation to elucidate the mechanism accounting for the unprecedented broadening of the LEBS peaks. Typically, the exit angles of the scattered photons are not considered in modeling EBS in the diffusion regime. We show that small exit angles are highly sensitive to low-order scattering, which is crucial for accurate modeling of LEBS. Our results show that the predictions of the model are in excellent agreement with the experimental data.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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