Computing the scattering properties of participating media using Lorenz-Mie theory

Publication: Research - peer-reviewConference article – Annual report year: 2007

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This paper introduces a theoretical model for computing the scattering properties of participating media and translucent materials. The model takes as input a description of the components of a medium and computes all the parameters necessary to render it. These parameters are the extinction and scattering coefficients, the phase function, and the index of refraction. Our theory is based on a robust generalization of the Lorenz-Mie theory. Previous models using Lorenz-Mie theory have been limited to non-absorbing media with spherical particles such as paints and clouds. Our generalized theory is capable of handling both absorbing host media and non-spherical particles, which significantly extends the classes of media and materials that can be modeled. We use the theory to compute optical properties for different types of ice and ocean water, and we derive a novel appearance model for milk parameterized by the fat and protein contents. Our results show that we are able to match measured scattering properties in cases where the classical Lorenz-Mie theory breaks down, and we can compute properties for media that cannot be measured using existing techniques in computer graphics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)article number 60
StatePublished - Jul 2007


Conference34th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques
CountryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA
Internet address
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: 16


  • realistic rendering, optical properties, Lorenz-Mie theory, participating media, appearance modeling
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