Constrained polarization evolution simplifies depth-resolved retardation measurements with polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography

Biomed Opt Express. 2019 Sep 17;10(10):5207-5222. doi: 10.1364/BOE.10.005207. eCollection 2019 Oct 1.


We observed that the polarization state of light after round-trip propagation through a birefringent medium frequently aligns with the employed input polarization state 'mirrored' by the horizontal plane of the Poincaré sphere. We explored the predisposition for this mirror state and evidence that it constrains the evolution of polarization states as a function of the round-trip depth into weakly scattering birefringent samples, as measured with polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT). Combined with spectral variations in the polarization state transmitted through system components, we demonstrate how this constraint enables measurement of depth-resolved birefringence using only a single input polarization state, which offers a critical simplification compared to conventional PS-OCT employing two input states.