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Appl Opt. 2003 Jun 1;42(16):2871-80.

Microscopic origin of light scattering in tissue.

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  • 1Department of Physics and the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


A newly designed instrument, the static light-scattering (SLS) microscope, which combines light microscopy with SLS, enables us to characterize local light-scattering patterns of thin tissue sections. Each measurement is performed with an illumination beam of 70-microm diameter. On these length scales, tissue is not homogeneous. Both structural ordering and small heterogeneities contribute to the scattering signal. Raw SLS data consist of a two-dimensional intensity distribution map I(theta, phi), showing the dependence of the scattered intensity I on the scattering angle theta and the azimuthal angle phi. In contrast to the majority of experiments and to simulations that consider only the scattering angle, we additionally perform an analysis of the azimuthal dependence I(phi). We estimate different contributions to the azimuthal scattering variation and show that a significant fraction of the azimuthal amplitude is the result of tissue structure. As a demonstration of the importance of the structure-dependent part of the azimuthal signal, we show that this function of the scattered light alone can be used to classify tissue types with surprisingly high specificity and sensitivity.

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