Reconstruction of explicit structural properties at the nanoscale via spectroscopic microscopy

Lusik Cherkezyan, Di Zhang, Hariharan Subramanian, Allen Taflove, Vadim Backman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The spectrum registered by a reflected-light bright-field spectroscopic microscope (SM) can quantify the microscopically indiscernible, deeply subdiffractional length scales within samples such as biological cells and tissues. Nevertheless, quantification of biological specimens via any optical measures most often reveals ambiguous information about the specific structural properties within the studied samples. Thus, optical quantification remains nonintuitive to users from the diverse fields of technique application. In this work, we demonstrate that the SM signal can be analyzed to reconstruct explicit physical measures of internal structure within label-free, weakly scattering samples: characteristic length scale and the amplitude of spatial refractive-index (RI) fluctuations. We present and validate the reconstruction algorithm via finite-difference time-domain solutions of Maxwell's equations on an example of exponential spatial correlation of RI. We apply the validated algorithm to experimentally measure structural properties within isolated cells from two genetic variants of HT29 colon cancer cell line as well as within a prostate tissue biopsy section. The presented methodology can lead to the development of novel biophotonics techniques that create two-dimensional maps of explicit structural properties within biomaterials: the characteristic size of macromolecular complexes and the variance of local mass density.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number025007
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • backscattering
  • biomedical optics
  • biophotonics
  • microscopy
  • signal processing
  • spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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