Light scattering and absorption spectroscopy in three dimensions using quantitative low coherence interferometry for biomedical applications
The behavior of light after interacting with a biological medium reveals a wealth of information that may be used to distinguish between normal and disease states. This may be achieved by simply imaging the morphology of tissues or individual cells, and/or by more sophisticated methods that quantify specific surrogate biomarkers of disease. To this end, the work presented in this dissertation demonstrates novel tools derived from low coherence interferometry (LCI) that quantitatively measure wavelength-dependent scattering and absorption properties of biological samples, with high spectral resolution and micrometer spatial resolution, to provide insight into disease states.
The presented work first describes a dual window (DW) method, which decomposes a signal sampled in a single domain (in this case the frequency domain) to a distribution that simultaneously contains information from both the original domain and the conjugate domain (here, the temporal or spatial domain). As the name suggests, the DW method utilizes two independently adjustable windows, each with different spatial and spectral properties to overcome limitations found in other processing methods that seek to obtain the same information. A theoretical treatment is provided, and the method is validated through simulations and experiments. With this tool, the spatially dependent spectral behavior of light after interacting with a biological medium may be analyzed to extract parameters of interest, such as the scattering and absorption properties.
The DW method is employed to investigate scattering properties of samples using Fourier domain LCI (fLCI). In this method, induced temporal coherence effects provide insight into structural changes in dominant scatterers, such as cell nuclei within tissue, which can reveal the early stages of cancerous development. fLCI is demonstrated in complex, three-dimensional samples using a scattering phantom and an ex-vivo animal model. The results from the latter study show that fLCI is able to detect changes in the morphology of tissues undergoing precancerous development.
The DW method is also employed to enable a novel form of optical coherence tomography (OCT), an imaging modality that uses coherence gating to obtain micrometer-scale, cross-sectional information of tissues. The novel method, named molecular imaging true color spectroscopic OCT (METRiCS OCT), analyses the depth dependent absorption of light to ascertain quantitative information of chromophore concentration, such as hemoglobin. The molecular information is also processed to yield a true color representation of the sample, a unique capability of this approach. A number of experiments, including hemoglobin absorbing phantoms and in-vivo imaging of a chick embryo model and dorsal skinfold window chamber model, demonstrate the power of the method.
The final method presented in this dissertation, consists of a spectroscopic approach that interrogates the dispersive biochemical properties of samples to independently probe the scattering and absorption coefficients. To demonstrate this method, named non-linear phase dispersion spectroscopy (NLDS), a careful analysis of LCI signals is presented. The method is verified using measurements from samples that scatter and absorb light. Lastly, NLDS is combined with phase microscopy to achieve molecular imaging with sub-micron spatial resolution. Imaging of red blood cells (RBCs) shows that the method enables highly sensitive measurements that can quantify hemoglobin content from single RBCs.
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