Pierre Bouguer (1698-1758) argued that, because each mathematical layer of a homogeneous medium absorbs and scatters light independently, a weak monochromatic optical beam will decay exponentially with distance. This was proposed independently by J. H. Lambert (1728-1777). We have studied optical beam attenuation in homogeneous suspensions of latex spheres (~1 μm in diameter) so dense that their positions are correlated over one attenuation length. For this case we found that the transmitted intensity of a weak 633-nm laser beam did not decline exponentially with the medium thickness and that we could estimate the correlation length of the latex density by measuring the nonexponential form of the decay.

© 1990 Optical Society of America

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