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Spectral variation of the infrared absorption coefficient in pulsed photothermal profiling of biological samples


Pulsed photothermal radiometry can be used for non-invasive depth profiling of optically scattering samples, including biological tissues such as human skin. Computational reconstruction of the laser-induced temperature profile from recorded radiometric signals is sensitive to the value of the tissue absorption coefficient in the infrared detection band (muIR). While assumed constant in reported reconstruction algorithms, muIR of human skin varies by two orders of magnitude in the commonly used 3-5 microm detection band. We analyse the problem of selecting the effective absorption coefficient value to be used with such algorithms. In a numerical simulation of photothermal profiling we demonstrate that results can be markedly impaired, unless the reconstruction algorithm is augmented by accounting for spectral variation muIR(lambda). Alternatively, narrowing the detection band to 4.5-5 microm reduces the spectral variation muIR(lambda) to a level that permits the use of the simpler, unaugmented algorithm. Implementation of the latter approach for depth profiling of port wine stain birthmarks in vivo is presented and discussed.

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