We report on a modification of optical coherence tomography (OCT) that allows one to measure small phase differences between beams traversing adjacent areas of a specimen. The sample beam of a polarization-sensitive low-coherence interferometer is split by a Wollaston prism into two components that traverse the object along closely spaced paths. After reflection at the various sample surfaces, the beams are recombined at the Wollaston prism. Any phase difference encountered between the two beams is converted into a change of polarization state of the recombined beam. This change is measured, and the resulting signals are converted to differential phase-contrast OCT images. The first images obtained from simple test objects allowed us to determine path-difference gradients with a resolution of the order of 5 × 10<sup>-5</sup> .
© 1999 Optical Society of America
(110.4500) Imaging systems : Optical coherence tomography
(120.3180) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Interferometry
(120.5050) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Phase measurement
(170.4500) Medical optics and biotechnology : Optical coherence tomography
Christoph K. Hitzenberger and Adolf F. Fercher, "Differential phase contrast in optical coherence tomography," Opt. Lett. 24, 622-624 (1999)