A phantom with tissue-like optical properties in the visible and near infrared for use in photomedicine

Manuela Lualdi, Ambrogio Colombo, Bruno Farina, Stefano Tomatis, Renato Marchesini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objective: Modeling of light transport in tissue requires development of theoretical models and experimental procedures, as well as tissue-simulating phantoms. Our purpose was to develop a phantom that matches the optical characteristics of human skin in the visible and near infrared spectral range. Study Design/Materials and Methods: The phantom consists of a transparent silicone rubber in which Al2O3 particles and a cosmetic powder are embedded. Layers with thickness as thin as 0.1 mm can be made. The optical properties of Al2O3 particles and cosmetic powder, i.e., total attenuation, absorption and scattering coefficients, and phase function, have been determined in the visible and near infrared spectral range, by using direct and indirect techniques. Results: By varying the concentration of scattering and absorbing particles, tissue-like layers can be produced with predictable optical properties. In particular, mixing at suitable concentration Al2O3 particles and cosmetic powder with the silicone rubber, the optical properties of human skin have been simulated over a range of wavelengths from 400 to 1,000 nm. The comparison between the phantom diffuse reflectance spectrum and that of human skin, averaged over a sample of 260 patients, showed a good agreement. Conclusion: The proposed technique allows to produce a stable and reproducible phantom, with accurately predictable optical properties, easy to make and to handle. This phantom is a useful/tool for numerous applications involving light interaction with biologic tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-243
Number of pages7
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • AlO particles
  • Cosmetic powder
  • Optical coefficients
  • Polystyrene microspheres
  • Tissue optics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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