White-light diffraction tomography of unlabelled live cells

Taewoo Kim, Renjie Zhou, Mustafa Mir, S. Derin Babacan, P. Scott Carney, Lynford L. Goddard, Gabriel Popescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a technique called white-light diffraction tomography (WDT) for imaging microscopic transparent objects such as live unlabelled cells. The approach extends diffraction tomography to white-light illumination and imaging rather than scattering plane measurements. Our experiments were performed using a conventional phase contrast microscope upgraded with a module to measure quantitative phase images. The axial dimension of the object was reconstructed by scanning the focus through the object and acquiring a stack of phase-resolved images. We reconstructed the three-dimensional structures of live, unlabelled, red blood cells and compared the results with confocal and scanning electron microscopy images. The 350 nm transverse and 900 nm axial resolution achieved reveals subcellular structures at high resolution in Escherichia coli cells. The results establish WDT as a means for measuring three-dimensional subcellular structures in a non-invasive and label-free manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-263
Number of pages8
JournalNature Photonics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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