Waves scattered by a weakly inhomogeneous random medium contain a predominant single scattering contribution as well as a multiple scattering contribution which is usually neglected, especially for imaging purposes. A method based on random matrix theory is proposed to separate the single and multiple scattering contributions. The experimental set up uses an array of sources/receivers placed in front of the medium. The impulse responses between every couple of transducers are measured and form a matrix. Single-scattering contributions are shown to exhibit a deterministic coherence along the antidiagonals of the array response matrix, whatever the distribution of inhomogeneities. This property is taken advantage of to discriminate single from multiple-scattered waves. This allows one to evaluate the absorption losses and the scattering losses separately, by comparing the multiple scattering intensity with a radiative transfer model. Moreover, the relative contribution of multiple scattering in the backscattered wave can be estimated, which serves as a validity test for the Born approximation. Experimental results are presented with ultrasonic waves in the MHz range, on a synthetic sample (agar-gelatine gel) as well as on breast tissues. Interestingly, the multiple scattering contribution is found to be far from negligible in the breast around 4.3 MHz.
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