The spatial variation of the refractive index in biological cells

Phys Med Biol. 1996 Mar;41(3):369-82. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/41/3/002.


With a phase microscope the phase shift of cells from type L 929 fibroblast and mitochondria from liver cells was measured. Compared to the total phase shift caused by the cell relative to vacuum (approximately 1400 nm) the single phase shift of the mitochondria (approximately 180 nm) is small. Only the nucleus and the membrane of the cell give a visibly different phase shift relative to the mean value of the cell. The Fraunhofer diffraction of the measured phase object is calculated. With a simplified scattering theory, i.e. Rayleigh-Gans Scattering, different phase objects are investigated and their differential cross section is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Cell Line
  • Light
  • Liver / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Models, Biological
  • Optics and Photonics*
  • Rats
  • Scattering, Radiation