We analyze an experimental setup in which a quasi-monochromatic spatially coherent beam of light is used to probe a paraxial optical scatterer. We discuss the effect of the spatial coherence of the probe beam on the Mueller matrix representing the scatterer. We show that, according to the degree of spatial coherence of the beam, the same scattering medium can be represented by different Mueller matrices. This result should serve as a warning for experimentalists.
© 2005 Optical Society of America
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