Theory of Optical Coherence Tomography

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Several earlier publications have addressed the theory of optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging. These include original articles [1–12], reviews [13, 14], and books/book chapters [15, 16]. Many of these publications were authored before the major revolution that Fourier domain techniques (here termed FDOCT) brought to OCT in the last few years, and thus were written primarily from the perspective of time-domain OCT (TDOCT). Also, relatively few prior publications have addressed lateral resolution in OCT systems, which, from an end-user perspective is of equal importance to the axial resolving power derived from low-coherence interferometry. The aim of this chapter is to present a unified theory of OCT, which includes a discussion of imaging performance in all three dimensions, and treats both Fourier and time domain OCT on equal footing as specializations of the same underlying principles.