Various staining techniques are commonly used in biomedical research to investigate cellular morphology. By inducing absorption of light, staining dyes change the intracellular refractive index due to the Kramers–Kronig relationship. We present a method for creating 2D maps of real and imaginary refractive indices of stained biological cells using their thickness and absorptance. We validate our technique on dyed polystyrene microspheres and quantify the alteration in refractive index of stained biological cells. We reveal that specific staining of individual organelles can increase their scattering cross-section by orders of magnitudes, implying a major impact in the field of biophotonics.
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