Light Scattering Method Reveals Details under Skin

Apr 12, 2005

A new optical method that can image subsurface structures under skin has been demonstrated by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
The method relies on differences in the way surface and subsurface features of various materials scatter light. It was demonstrated with small pieces of pigskin and inorganic materials but might eventually prove useful for imaging living tissues to help diagnose or determine the extent of various types of skin cancers. A paper on the work was presented at a recent technical meeting and is in press.*

The imaging process involves illuminating a sample with polarized light, which has its electric field oriented in a particular direction, and using a digital camera with a rotating polarization filter to image the light scattered from the sample. Researchers manipulated the polarization to minimize light scattered from the rough skin surface, and positioned the light source in multiple locations to separate out, and delete, light scattered more than one time from deeper sample layers. By using certain polarization settings and combining two images made with the light source in different positions, they generated a processed image that reveals significant subsurface structure.

Polarized light imaging already is used in dermatology to identify the edges of lesions. The new method minimizes the effects of two types of unwanted light scattering at once, and thus, if confirmed by other methods, might someday be used in a clinical setting to produce more detailed images of deeper layers of skin.

The method was developed under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between the two institutions. The project adapted light scattering techniques originally developed by NIST researchers to image surface and subsurface features in inorganic materials such as silicon wafers, mirrors and paint coatings. Scientists currently are working on making the new method easier and faster to use.

*Publication: J.C. Ramella-Roman, D. Duncan, T.A. Germer. 2005. Out-of-plane polarimetric imaging of skin: Surface and subsurface effects. In Photonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics, Nikiforos Kollias et al., eds. Proc. SPIE 5686 (forthcoming).

Explore further: New filter could advance terahertz data transmission

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New remediation guidelines for petroleum contamination

Feb 09, 2015

New industry advice that will place Australia at the global cutting edge in the clean-up of petroleum-based contaminants in groundwater was today released by the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and ...

Biomarkers of the deep

Jul 25, 2014

Tucked away in the southwest corner of Spain is a unique geological site that has fascinated astrobiologists for decades. The Iberian Pyrite Belt (IPB) in Spain's Río Tinto area is the largest known deposit ...

Milky Way may bear 100 million life-giving planets

Jun 04, 2014

(Phys.org) —There are some 100 million other places in the Milky Way galaxy that could support complex life, report a group of university astronomers in the journal Challenges. They have developed a new ...

Recommended for you

New filter could advance terahertz data transmission

8 hours ago

University of Utah engineers have discovered a new approach for designing filters capable of separating different frequencies in the terahertz spectrum, the next generation of communications bandwidth that ...

The super-resolution revolution

8 hours ago

Cambridge scientists are part of a resolution revolution. Building powerful instruments that shatter the physical limits of optical microscopy, they are beginning to watch molecular processes as they happen, ...

Precision gas sensor could fit on a chip

9 hours ago

Using their expertise in silicon optics, Cornell engineers have miniaturized a light source in the elusive mid-infrared (mid-IR) spectrum, effectively squeezing the capabilities of a large, tabletop laser onto a 1-millimeter ...

A new X-ray microscope for nanoscale imaging

10 hours ago

Delivering the capability to image nanostructures and chemical reactions down to nanometer resolution requires a new class of x-ray microscope that can perform precision microscopy experiments using ultra-bright ...

New research signals big future for quantum radar

22 hours ago

A prototype quantum radar that has the potential to detect objects which are invisible to conventional systems has been developed by an international research team led by a quantum information scientist at the University ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.