Journal of Biomedical Optics • Open AccessPolarized light imaging in biomedicine: emerging Mueller matrix methodologies for bulk tissue assessment
Polarized light point measurements and wide-field imaging have been studied for many years in an effort to develop accurate and information-rich tissue diagnostic methods. However, the extensive depolarization of polarized light in thick biological tissues has limited the success of these investigations. Recently, advances in technology and conceptual understanding have led to a significant resurgence of research activity in the promising field of bulk tissue polarimetry. In particular, with the advent of improved measurement, analysis, and interpretation methods, including Mueller matrix decomposition, new diagnostic avenues, such as quantification of microstructural anisotropy in bulk tissues, have been enabled. Further, novel technologies have improved the speed and the accuracy of polarimetric instruments for ex vivo and in vivo diagnostics. In this paper, we review some of the recent progress in tissue polarimetry, provide illustrative application examples, and offer an outlook to the future of polarized light imaging in bulk biological tissues.