The head of an optical fiber comprising the sensing probe of an optical heterodyne sensing device includes a planar surface that intersects the perpendicular to axial centerline of the fiber at a polishing angle .theta.. The planar surface is coated with a reflective material so that light traveling axially through the fiber is reflected transverse to the fiber's axial centerline, and is emitted laterally through the side of the fiber. Alternatively, the planar surface can be left uncoated. The polishing angle .theta. must be no greater than 39.degree. or must be at least 51.degree.. The emitted light is reflected from adjacent biological tissue, collected by the head, and then processed to provide real-time images of the tissue. The method for forming the planar surface includes shearing the end of the optical fiber and applying the reflective material before removing the buffer that circumscribes the cladding and the core.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.