Dark-field optical coherence microscopy
Many solutions have been proposed to produce phase quantitative images of biological cell samples. Among these, Spectral Domain Phase Microscopy combines the fast imaging speed and high sensitivity of Optical Coherence Microscopy (OCM) in the Fourier domain with the high phase stability of common-path interferometry. We report on a new illumination scheme for OCM that enhances the sensitivity for backscattered light and detects the weak sample signal, otherwise buried by the signal from specular reflection. With the use of a Bessel-like beam, a dark-field configuration was realized. Sensitivity measurements for three different illumination configurations were performed to compare our method to standard OCM and extended focus OCM. Using a well-defined scattering and reflecting object, we demonstrated an attenuation of -40 dB of the DC-component and a relative gain of 30 dB for scattered light, compared to standard OCM. In a second step, we applied this technique, referred to as dark-field Optical Coherence Microscopy (dfOCM), to living cells. Chinese hamster ovarian cells were applied in a drop of medium on a coverslide. The cells of 15 μm in diameter and even internal cell structures were visualized in the acquired tomograms.