Coherence, Statistical optics, diffusion, radiative transfer, microscopy, optical sensing


Even though most of the properties of optical fields, such as wavelength, polarization, wavefront curvature or angular spectrum, have been commonly manipulated in a variety of remote sensing procedures, controlling the degree of coherence of light did not find wide applications until recently. Since the emergence of optical coherence tomography, a growing number of scattering techniques have relied on temporal coherence gating which provides efficient target selectivity in a way achieved only by bulky short pulse measurements. The spatial counterpart of temporal coherence, however, has barely been exploited in sensing applications. This dissertation examines, in different scattering regimes, a variety of inverse scattering problems based on variable spatial coherence gating. Within the framework of the radiative transfer theory, this dissertation demonstrates that the short range correlation properties of a medium under test can be recovered by varying the size of the coherence volume of an illuminating beam. Nonetheless, the radiative transfer formalism does not account for long range correlations and current methods for retrieving the correlation function of the complex susceptibility require cumbersome cross-spectral density measurements. Instead, a variable coherence tomographic procedure is proposed where spatial coherence gating is used to probe the structural properties of single scattering media over an extended volume and with a very simple detection system. Enhanced backscattering is a coherent phenomenon that survives strong multiple scattering. The variable coherence tomography approach is extended in this context to diffusive media and it is demonstrated that specific photon trajectories can be selected in order to achieve depth-resolved sensing. Probing the scattering properties of shallow and deeper layers is of considerable interest in biological applications such as diagnosis of skin related diseases. The spatial coherence properties of an illuminating field can be manipulated over dimensions much larger than the wavelength thus providing a large effective sensing area. This is a practical advantage over many near-field microscopic techniques, which offer a spatial resolution beyond the classical diffraction limit but, at the expense of scanning a probe over a large area of a sample which is time consuming, and, sometimes, practically impossible. Taking advantage of the large field of view accessible when using the spatial coherence gating, this dissertation introduces the principle of variable coherence scattering microscopy. In this approach, a subwavelength resolution is achieved from simple far-zone intensity measurements by shaping the degree of spatial coherence of an evanescent field. Furthermore, tomographic techniques based on spatial coherence gating are especially attractive because they rely on simple detection schemes which, in principle, do not require any optical elements such as lenses. To demonstrate this capability, a correlated lensless imaging method is proposed and implemented, where both amplitude and phase information of an object are obtained by varying the degree of spatial coherence of the incident beam. Finally, it should be noted that the idea of using the spatial coherence properties of fields in a tomographic procedure is applicable to any type of electromagnetic radiation. Operating on principles of statistical optics, these sensing procedures can become alternatives for various target detection schemes, cutting-edge microscopies or x-ray imaging methods.


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Graduation Date





Dogariu, Aristide


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics

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Length of Campus-only Access


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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)