Research ArticleAPPLIED PHYSICS

Smart optical coherence tomography for ultra-deep imaging through highly scattering media

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Science Advances  04 Nov 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 11, e1600370
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600370

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Abstract

Multiple scattering of waves in disordered media is a nightmare whether it is for detection or imaging purposes. So far, the best approach to get rid of multiple scattering is optical coherence tomography. This basically combines confocal microscopy and coherence time gating to discriminate ballistic photons from a predominant multiple scattering background. Nevertheless, the imaging-depth range remains limited to 1 mm at best in human soft tissues because of aberrations and multiple scattering. We propose a matrix approach of optical imaging to push back this fundamental limit. By combining a matrix discrimination of ballistic waves and iterative time reversal, we show, both theoretically and experimentally, an extension of the imaging-depth limit by at least a factor of 2 compared to optical coherence tomography. In particular, the reported experiment demonstrates imaging through a strongly scattering layer from which only 1 reflected photon out of 1000 billion is ballistic. This approach opens a new route toward ultra-deep tissue imaging.

Keywords
  • Optical imaging
  • turbid media
  • multiple scattering
  • wave-front control
  • matrix approach of light propagation
  • optical coherence tomography
  • confocal microscopy

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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