In order to describe the birefringence of objects that are oriented arbitrary in 3D space we introduce two additional parameters: principal retardance and inclination angle. The two new parameters and the azimuth angle together completely characterize the birefringence of cell components such as microtubules, cell walls, etc. For measuring the distribution of those birefringent parameters we have developed a polarizing microscope that includes a device for scanning the illumination beam axes. We describe experimental results obtained with this scanned aperture PolScope using a biological sample, reconstituted asters of Spisula oocytes.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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