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Raman Signal Enhancement in Deep Spectroscopy of Turbid Media

Volume 61, Number 8 (Aug. 2007) Page 845-854

Matousek, P.

A new, passive method for enhancing spontaneous Raman signals for the spectroscopic investigation of turbid media is presented. The main areas to benefit are transmission Raman and spatially offset Raman spectroscopy approaches for deep probing of turbid media. The enhancement, which is typically several fold, is achieved using a multilayer dielectric optical element, such as a bandpass filter, placed within the laser beam over the sample. This element prevents loss of the photons that re-emerge from the medium at the critical point where the laser beam enters the sample, the point where major photon loss occurs. This leads to a substantial increase of the coupling of laser radiation into the sample and consequently an enhanced laser photon-medium interaction process. The method utilizes the angular dependence of dielectric optical elements on impacting photon direction with its transmission spectral profile shifting to the blue with increase in the deviation of photons away from normal incidence. This feature enables it to act as a unidirectional mirror passing a semi-collimated laser beam through unhindered from one side, and at the other side, reflecting photons emerging from the sample at random directions back into it with no restrictions to the detected Raman signal. With substantial restrictions to the spectral range, the concept can also be applied to conventional backscattering Raman spectroscopy. The use of additional reflective elements around the sample to enhance the Raman signal further is also discussed. The increased signal strength yields higher signal quality, a feature important in many applications. Potential uses include sensitive noninvasive disease diagnosis in vivo, security screening, and quality control of pharmaceutical products. The concept is also applicable in an analogous manner to other types of analytical methods such as fluorescence or near-infrared (NIR) absorption spectroscopy of turbid media or it can be used to enhance the effectiveness of the coupling of laser radiation into tissue in applications such as photodynamic therapy for cancer treatment.