Polychromatic polarization microscope: bringing colors to a colorless world. Academic Article uri icon


  • Interference of two combined white light beams produces Newton colors if one of the beams is retarded relative to the other by from 400?nm to 2000?nm. In this case the corresponding interfering spectral components are added as two scalars at the beam combination. If the retardance is below 400?nm the two-beam interference produces grey shades only. The interference colors are widely used for analyzing birefringent samples in mineralogy. However, many of biological structures have retardance <100?nm. Therefore, cells and tissues under a regular polarization microscope are seen as grey image, which contrast disappears at certain orientations. Here we are proposing for the first time using vector interference of polarized light in which the full spectrum colors are created at retardance of several nanometers, with the hue determined by orientation of the birefringent structure. The previously colorless birefringent images of organelles, cells, and tissues become vividly colored. This approach can open up new possibilities for the study of biological specimens with weak birefringent structures, diagnosing various diseases, imaging low birefringent crystals, and creating new methods for controlling colors of the light beam.

publication date

  • November 27, 2015