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Optical properties of tissue measured using terahertz-pulsed imaging

By E. Berry, A. J. Fitzgerald, N. N. Zinoviev, G. C. Walker, S. Homer-Vanniasinkam, C. D. Sudworth, R. E. Miles, M. Chamberlain and M. A. Smith


The first demonstrations of terahertz imaging in biomedicine were made several years ago, but few data are available on the optical properties of human tissue at terahertz frequencies. A catalogue of these properties has been established to estimate variability and determine the practicality of proposed medical applications in terms of penetration depth, image contrast and reflection at boundaries. A pulsed terahertz imaging system with a useful bandwidth 0.5-2.5 THz was used. Local ethical committee approval was obtained. Transmission measurements were made through tissue slices of thickness 0.08 to 1 mm, including tooth enamel and dentine, cortical bone, skin, adipose tissue and striated muscle. The mean and standard deviation for refractive index and linear attenuation coefficient, both broadband and as a function of frequency, were calculated. The measurements were used in simple models of the transmission, reflection and propagation of terahertz radiation in potential medical applications. Refractive indices ranged from 1.5 ± 0.5 for adipose tissue to 3.06 ± 0.09 for tooth enamel. Significant differences (P < 0.05) were found between the broadband refractive indices of a number of tissues. Terahertz radiation is strongly absorbed in tissue so reflection imaging, which has lower penetration requirements than transmission, shows promise for dental or dermatological applications

Year: 2003
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