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Non-destructive optical techniques are increasingly used in biomedical diagnostics. Fundamental mechanisms between optical radiation and biological specimens are absorption, reflection, elastic or inelastic light scattering, and luminescence. The latter is subdivided into (1) fluorescence, corresponding to allowed optical transitions with rather high quantum yields and short (nanosecond) lifetimes and (2) phosphorescence corresponding to optical transitions with low probability (“forbidden transitions”) and thus with low quantum yields and long lifetimes in the microsecond to millisecond range.
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