Model for photon migration in turbid biological media

R. F. Bonner, R. Nossal, S. Havlin, G. H. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

333 Scopus citations


Various characteristics of photon diffusion in turbid biological media are examined. Applications include the interpretation of data acquired with laser Doppler blood-flow monitors and the design of protocols for therapeutic excitation of tissue chromophores. Incident radiation is assumed to be applied at an interface between a turbid tissue and a transparent medium, and the reemission of photons from that interface is analyzed. Making use of a discrete lattice model, we derive an expression for the joint probability Γ(n, ρ)d2ρ that a photon will be emitted in the infinitesimal area d2ρ centered at surface point ρ = (x, y), having made n collisions with the tissue. Mathematical expressions are obtained for the intensity distribution of diffuse surface emission, the probability of photon absorption in the interior as a function of depth, and the mean path length of detected photons as a function of the distance between the site of the incident radiation and the location of the detector. We show that the depth dependence of the distribution of photon absorption events can be inferred from measured parameters of the surface emission profile. Results of relevant computer simulations are presented, and illustrative experimental data are shown to be in accord with the theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-432
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 1979
Externally publishedYes


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