Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the effect of pulse-to-pulse fluctuations of supercontinuum sources on the noise in spectral domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) images. The commonly quoted theoretical expression for the OCT noise is derived for a thermal light source, which is not suitable if a supercontinuum light source is used. We therefore propose a new, measurement-based OCT noise model that predicts the noise without any assumptions on the type of light source. We show that the predicted noise values are in excellent agreement with the measured values. The spectral correlation evaluated for the photodetected signal when using a supercontinuum determines the shape of the OCT noise floor, which must be taken into account when characterizing the sensitivity roll-off of a supercontinuum-based OCT system. The spectral correlations using both conventional supercontinuum sources and low-noise all-normal dispersion supercontinuum sources are investigated, and the fundamental physical effects that cause these correlations are discussed.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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