We have studied the light-scattering properties of human erythrocytes both experimentally and theoretically. In the experimental study measurements were performed with a Scanning Flow Cytometer (SFC). The SFC can measure the light-scattering pattern (indicatrix) of an individual particle over an angular range of 10–60°. We have observed polymorphism in the measured set of indicatrices. To understand the reason for this polymorphism, we have made a theoretical study of the scattering properties of erythrocytes. The Wentzel–Kramer–Brillouin approximation has been employed to calculate indicatrices of individual erythrocytes in different orientations relative to the incident light beam. The indicatrices were calculated over an angular range of 15–35°. A comparison of the experimentally measured and theoretically calculated indicatrices shows that the polymorphism is due mainly to the different orientation of the erythrocytes in the flow. The effect caused by the Poiseuille profile of the flow on an individual erythrocyte within the SFC cuvette capillary was studied theoretically by use of the Stokes approximation. Rotation of an erythrocyte was predicted by this theoretical analysis, and this prediction was further verified by comparison with experimental results.
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