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IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 1992 Feb;39(2):194-201.

The relationship of surface reflectance measurements to optical properties of layered biological media.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnique Institute, Troy, NY 12180.


Reflectance from a turbid biological tissue is discussed for a diffusive light source illuminating the surface of the medium, and is related to the optical property distribution within the medium and to photon propagation through the medium. A three-dimensional photon diffusion model with closed form is developed to describe the photon diffuse intensity in a homogeneous medium. The solution is extended by numerical methods to the medium with layered structure. The concepts of photon flux paths and of reflectance indexes are utilized, together with reflectance data, to extract information about the internal optical properties of a medium. The flux path concept was corroborated by successfully detecting in vivo and ex vivo layered differences in optical properties within the biological medium. These studies suggest that the optical properties of subdermal tissue can be measured from light reflectance and that the effect of the upper skin layers can be eliminated.

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