Abstract

This Letter presents the τ interferometer, a portable and inexpensive device for obtaining spatial interferograms of microscopic biological samples without the strict stability and the highly coherent illumination that are usually required for interferometric microscopy setups. The device is built using off-the-shelf optical elements and can easily operate with low-coherence illumination, while being positioned in the output of a conventional inverted microscope. The interferograms are processed into the quantitative amplitude and phase profiles of the sample. Based on the phase profile, the optical-path-delay profile is obtained with temporal stability of 0.18 nm and spatial stability of 0.42 nm. Further experimental demonstration of using the τ interferometer for imaging the quantitative thickness profile of a live red blood cell is provided.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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