Abstract

Recently, with the emergence of new light sources, polarization devices, and detectors, together with a prominent increase in data processing capability, polarization techniques find more and more applications in various areas, one of which is biomedicine. For probing the characteristic features of complex biomedical specimen, Mueller matrix polarimetry has demonstrated distinctive advantages. Mueller matrix polarimetry can be achieved on other optical techniques by adding the polarization state generator and analyzer to their existing optical paths appropriately. Common biomedical optical equipment, such as microscopes and endoscopes, can be upgraded to fulfill Mueller matrix imaging and measurement abilities. Compared with traditional non-polarization optical methods, Mueller matrix polarimetry can provide far more information to characterize the samples, including the anisotropic optical properties, such as birefringence and diattenuation, as well as the distinctive features of various scattering particles and microstructures. Also, Mueller matrix polarimetry is more sensitive to scattering by sub-wavelength microstructures. As a label-free and non-invasive tool, Mueller matrix polarimetry has broad application prospects in biomedical studies and clinical diagnosis. In this review, we provide an introduction to the Mueller matrix methodology, including the Stokes–Mueller formalism, and also the decomposition and transformation methods to derive new parameters. We also summarize the status of the Mueller matrix polarimetric field, including recent improvements, both in instrumentation and data analysis. The current and future applications of Mueller matrix polarimetry in biomedicine are provided and discussed.

© 2018 IEEE

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