Polarization asymmetry in waves backscattering from highly absorbant random media

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Within the range in which light penetration depth is approximately the same as or less than the diameter of the particles in the medium, particulate media with considerable absorption behave as two-dimensional, rough-surface structures. As penetration depth increases, a complicated transition between volume and surface effects is seen. For these media, low-order scattering sequences have small spatial extent, making observation of polarization characteristics difficult. We present an experimental technique to access the low-order scattered photons by artificially reinjecting them through total internal reflections. Using a dielectric layer in contact with the high-absorption medium, we are able to observe fourfold polarization asymmetry in backscattering from highly absorbant media. We discuss the origin of the polarization patterns in a ray-optics approximation and suggest possibilities for solving practical problems encountered in characterizing composites with appreciable absorption. (C) 1997 Optical Society of America.