Disorder strength measured by quantitative phase imaging as intrinsic cancer marker in fixed tissue biopsies

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Tissue refractive index provides important information about morphology at the nanoscale. Since the malignant transformation involves both intra- and inter-cellular changes in the refractive index map, the tissue disorder measurement can be used to extract important diagnosis information. Quantitative phase imaging (QPI) provides a practical means of extracting this information as it maps the optical path-length difference (OPD) across a tissue sample with sub-wavelength sensitivity. In this work, we employ QPI to compare the tissue disorder strength between benign and malignant breast tissue histology samples. Our results show that disease progression is marked by a significant increase in the disorder strength. Since our imaging system can be added as an upgrading module to an existing microscope, we anticipate that it can be integrated easily in the pathology work flow.

Chenfei Hu