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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2007 Apr;75(4 Pt 1):041914. Epub 2007 Apr 26.

Penetration depth of low-coherence enhanced backscattered light in subdiffusion regime.

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  • 1Biomedical Engineering Department, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.


The mechanisms of photon propagation in random media in the diffusive multiple scattering regime have been previously studied using diffusion approximation. However, similar understanding in the low-order (subdiffusion) scattering regime is not complete due to difficulties in tracking photons that undergo very few scatterings events. Recent developments in low-coherence enhanced backscattering (LEBS) overcome these difficulties and enable probing photons that travel very short distances and undergo only a few scattering events. In LEBS, enhanced backscattering is observed under illumination with spatial coherence length L{sc} less than the scattering mean free path l{s}. In order to understand the mechanisms of photon propagation in LEBS in the subdiffusion regime, it is imperative to develop analytical and numerical models that describe the statistical properties of photon trajectories. Here we derive the probability distribution of penetration depth of LEBS photons and report Monte Carlo numerical simulations to support our analytical results. Our results demonstrate that, surprisingly, the transport of photons that undergo low-order scattering events has only weak dependence on the optical properties of the medium (l{s} and anisotropy factor g) and strong dependence on the spatial coherence length of illumination, L{sc} relative to those in the diffusion regime. More importantly, these low-order scattering photons typically penetrate less than l{s} into the medium due to the low spatial coherence length of illumination and their penetration depth is proportional to the one-third power of the coherence volume (i.e., [l{s}piL{s}{2}]1/3) .

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