Photonics Dictionary


Backscatter refers to the phenomenon in which radiation or waves are scattered backward, opposite to the direction of the incident beam. This occurs when the incident radiation encounters a target or medium and is redirected back toward the source or in a direction opposite to the original path. Backscatter can be observed in various fields, including physics, acoustics, and remote sensing.

Here are a couple of examples:

Radiation physics: In the context of radiation, backscatter refers to the scattering of x-rays or gamma rays in a direction opposite to the incident beam. Backscatter radiation is often undesirable in medical imaging because it can contribute to increased radiation exposure for both patients and healthcare professionals.

Acoustics: In acoustics, backscatter occurs when sound waves encounter an object or boundary and are reflected back toward the source. Sonar systems, for example, use backscatter to detect underwater objects by analyzing the echoes of sound waves bouncing off those objects.

Remote sensing: In remote sensing, backscatter is used to study and characterize surfaces. For example, radar systems emit electromagnetic waves toward the Earth's surface, and the backscattered signals are analyzed to gather information about the properties of the terrain, such as roughness or moisture content.

Understanding backscatter is crucial in various scientific and technological applications, as it provides valuable information about the composition and characteristics of the materials or surfaces interacting with the incident waves or radiation. Depending on the field and application, backscatter can be analyzed to extract information about the properties of the target, such as density, composition, or structural features.

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