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Published July 2002 | Published
Journal Article Open

Special Section Guest Editorial - Tissue Polarimetry


Tissue polarimetry is an emerging area of technology development in tissue optics that is expected to lead to important research applications in biology and medicine. Traditional polarimetry is a mature field, but its application to thick tissues has been hindered by technical hurdles associated with multiple light scattering. However, light is intrinsically polarized; and many biological tissue components or molecules—such as collagen, muscle fibers, keratin, retina, and glucose—possess polarization properties. Further, biological scatterers—such as cell nuclei and mitochondria—alter light polarization upon each scattering event according to the geometric and optical parameters of the scatterers. Since incident polarized light is rapidly depolarized by scattering, polarization-sensitive detection of reflected or transmitted light selects only the early escaping photons and rejects multiply scattered light. Hence, polarized light offers a means of gating: reflected polarized photons interrogate superficial tissue layers, whereas transmitted polarized photons image the ballistic or quasi-ballistic region. Polarization can therefore provide novel contrast mechanisms for imaging, diagnosis, and sensing.

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© 2002 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. Online August 01, 2002.

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