We present a unified derivation of the photon diffusion coefficient for both steady-state and time-dependent transport in disordered absorbing media. The derivation is based on a modal analysis of the time-dependent radiative transfer equation. This approach confirms that the dynamic diffusion coefficient is given by the random-walk result , where is the transport mean free path and c is the energy velocity, independent of the level of absorption. It also shows that the diffusion coefficient for steady-state transport, often used in biomedical optics, depends on absorption, in agreement with recent theoretical and experimental works. These two results resolve a recurrent controversy in light propagation and imaging in scattering media.
© 2006 Optical Society of America
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