Abstract

We propose a novel method of measuring the group refractive index of biological tissues at the micrometer scale. The technique utilizes a broadband confocal microscope embedded into a Mach–Zehnder interferometer, with which spectral interferograms are measured as the sample is translated through the focus of the beam. The method does not require phase unwrapping and is insensitive to vibrations in the sample and reference arms. High measurement stability is achieved because a single spectral interferogram contains all the information necessary to compute the optical path delay of the beam transmitted through the sample. Included are a physical framework defining the forward problem, linear solutions to the inverse problem, and simulated images of biologically relevant phantoms.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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