Abstract

The majority of cells and microorganisms have a nonspherical shape and complex structure that challenge the interpretation of their spectral features. To address this issue, two approximations to the core-shell Mie theory were proposed. These included the approximation of light extinction by an ellipsoid with representation of the extinction by an equivalent sphere and representation of the extinction by a population of ellipsoidal particles with those of two weighted particle orientations. These hypotheses were first tested through numerical interpretation of the theoretical extinction spectra of prolate nucleated ellipsoids mimicking biological cells generated with anomalous diffraction approximation used as a reference method. Theoretical cases of fixed and random particle orientations demonstrated excellent capabilities of the proposed approach to retrieve the size, shape, and composition parameters of the model particles. Second, the UV–visible spectra of Leishmania species, promastigotes, elongated cells with prominent nuclei, were interpreted. The retrieved estimates of the protozoa size, shape, nucleus size, and nucleotide composition were in agreement with the corresponding microscopy estimates and literature values. Both theoretical tests and experimental results illustrated that the proposed approach can be successfully applied to estimate the structural and compositional parameters of cells from spectroscopic measurements.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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