Non-destructive quantification of pharmaceutical tablet coatings using terahertz pulsed imaging and optical coherence tomography

Shuncong Zhong, Yao-Chun Shen, Louise Ho, Robert K. May, J. Axel Zeitler, Mike Evans, Philip F. Taday, Michael Pepper, Thomas Rades, Keith C. Gordon, Ronny Müller, Peter Kleinebudde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)
235 Downloads (Pure)


Optical coherence tomography (OCT) and terahertz pulsed imaging (TPI) are two powerful techniques allowing high quality cross-sectional images from within scattering media to be obtained non-destructively. In this paper, we report experimental results of using OCT and TPI for quantitatively characterizing pharmaceutical tablet coatings in the thickness range of 10–140 μm. We found that the spectral OCT system developed in-house has an axial resolution of 0.9 μm, and is capable of quantifying very thin coatings in the range of 10–60 μm. The upper limit of 60 μm within the tablet coating and core is owed to the strong scattering of OCT light, which has relatively short wavelengths in the range of 0.5–1.0 μm. On the other hand, TPI utilizes terahertz radiation that has substantially long wavelengths in the range of hundreds of microns, and thus is less prone to the scattering problem. Consequently TPI has been demonstrated to be able to quantify thicker coatings in the range of 40–140 μm and beyond. We concluded that OCT and TPI are two complementary analytical techniques for non-destructive and quantitative characterization of pharmaceutical tablet coatings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-365
Number of pages5
JournalOptics and Lasers in Engineering
Issue number3
Early online date3 Dec 2010
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • non-destructive testing
  • optical coherence tomography
  • terahertz pulsed imaging
  • tablet coating thickness

Cite this