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Reflectance measurements of human skin from the ultraviolet to the shortwave infrared (250 nm to 2500 nm)



Catherine C. Cooksey, David W. Allen


While published literature of the optical properties of human skin is prevalent for the visible region, data are sparse in the ultra violet and shortwave infrared. Spectral imaging has expanded from primarily an earth remote sensing tool to a range of applications including medicine and security applications, as examples. These emerging applications will likely benefit from exemplar data of human skin spectral signatures that can be used in designing and testing spectral imaging systems. This paper details an initial study of the reflectance properties over the spectral range of the ultraviolet to the shortwave infrared. A commercial spectrophotometer was used to collect the directional-hemispherical reflectance of each participant’s skin from 250 nm to 2500 nm. The measurements are directly traceable to the national scales of reflectance and include estimated measurement uncertainties. The portion of skin under test was located on the participant’s forearm and was approximately 5 mm in diameter. The results provided in this study serve as one point of reference for the optical properties of skin that in turn will aid in the development of physical and digital tissue phantoms.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of SPIE
Conference Dates
April 29-May 2, 2013
Conference Location
Baltimore, MD
Conference Title
SPIE Defense, Security & Sensing


light, reflectance, reference data, skin, spectral, SWIR, tissue, traceable data, UV


Cooksey, C. and Allen, D. (2013), Reflectance measurements of human skin from the ultraviolet to the shortwave infrared (250 nm to 2500 nm), Proceedings of SPIE, Baltimore, MD, [online], (Accessed July 15, 2024)


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Created May 29, 2013, Updated February 19, 2017