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Fabrication and characterization of silicone-based tissue phantoms with tunable optical properties in the visible and near infrared domain

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We present a fabrication process for Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) tissue simulating phantoms with tunable optical properties to be used for optical system calibration and performance testing. Compared to liquid phantoms, cured PDMS phantoms are easier to transport and use, and have a longer usable life than gelatin based phantoms. Additionally, the deformability of cured PDMS makes it a better option over hard phantoms such as polyurethane optical phantoms when using optical probes which require tissue contact. PDMS has a refractive index of about 1.43 in the near infrared domain which is in the range of the refractive index of tissue. Absorption properties are determined through the addition of india ink, a broad band absorber in the visible and near infrared spectrum. Scattering properties are set by adding titanium dioxide, an inexpensive and widely available scattering agent which yields a wavelength dependent scattering coefficient similar to that observed in tissue in the near infrared. Phantom properties were characterized and validated using a two-distance, broadband frequency-domain photon migration system. Repeatability and predictability for the phantom fabrication process will be presented.

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