Adam P. Wax

Adam P. Wax

Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Professor of Physics (Secondary)

Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Bass Fellow

Office Location: 
2571 CIEMAS, Durham, NC 27708
Front Office Address: 
Box 90281, Durham, NC 27708-0281
(919) 660-5143


Dr. Wax's research interests include optical spectroscopy for early cancer detection, novel microscopy and
interferometry techniques.

The study of intact, living cells with optical spectroscopy offers the opportunity to observe cellular structure, organization and dynamics in a way that is not possible with traditional methods. We have developed a set of novel spectroscopic techniques for measuring spatial, temporal and refractive structure on sub-hertz and sub-wavelength scales based on using low-coherence interferometry (LCI) to detect scattered light. We have applied these techniques in different types of cell biology experiments. In one experiment, LCI measurements of the angular pattern of backscattered light are used to determine non-invasively the structure of sub-cellular organelles in cell monolayers, and the components of epithelial tissue from freshly excised rat esophagus. This work has potential as a diagnostic method for early cancer detection. In another experiment, LCI phase measurements are used to examine volume changes of epithelial cells in a monolayer in response to environmental osmolarity changes. Although cell volume changes have been measured previously, this work demonstrates for the first time the volume of just a few cells (2 or 3) tracked continuously and in situ.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Duke University 1999

  • M.A., Duke University 1996

  • B.S., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 1993

Zhao, Yang, et al. “Evaluation of burn severity in vivo in a mouse model using spectroscopic optical coherence tomography.Biomed Opt Express, vol. 6, no. 9, Sept. 2015, pp. 3339–45. Pubmed, doi:10.1364/BOE.6.003339. Full Text

Ho, Derek, et al. “Evaluation of hybrid algorithm for analysis of scattered light using ex vivo nuclear morphology measurements of cervical epithelium.Biomed Opt Express, vol. 6, no. 8, Aug. 2015, pp. 2755–65. Pubmed, doi:10.1364/BOE.6.002755. Full Text

Sheinfeld, Adi, et al. “Quantitative phase imaging with molecular sensitivity using photoacoustic microscopy with a miniature ring transducer.Journal of Biomedical Optics, vol. 20, no. 8, Aug. 2015, p. 86002. Epmc, doi:10.1117/1.jbo.20.8.086002. Full Text

Maher, Jason R., et al. “Co-localized confocal Raman spectroscopy and optical coherence tomography (CRS-OCT) for depth-resolved analyte detection in tissue.Biomedical Optics Express, vol. 6, no. 6, June 2015, pp. 2022–35. Epmc, doi:10.1364/boe.6.002022. Full Text

Rinehart, Matthew T., et al. “Influence of defocus on quantitative analysis of microscopic objects and individual cells with digital holography.Biomedical Optics Express, vol. 6, no. 6, June 2015, pp. 2067–75. Epmc, doi:10.1364/boe.6.002067. Full Text

Kim, Jina, et al. “Functional optical coherence tomography: principles and progress.Phys Med Biol, vol. 60, no. 10, May 2015, pp. R211–37. Pubmed, doi:10.1088/0031-9155/60/10/R211. Full Text

Brown, William J., et al. “Noise characterization of supercontinuum sources for low-coherence interferometry applications.Journal of the Optical Society of America. A, Optics, Image Science, and Vision, vol. 31, no. 12, Dec. 2014, pp. 2703–10. Epmc, doi:10.1364/josaa.31.002703. Full Text

Maher, Jason R., et al. “In vivo analysis of burns in a mouse model using spectroscopic optical coherence tomography.Opt Lett, vol. 39, no. 19, Oct. 2014, pp. 5594–97. Pubmed, doi:10.1364/OL.39.005594. Full Text

Ho, Derek, et al. “Wavelet transform fast inverse light scattering analysis for size determination of spherical scatterers.Biomedical Optics Express, vol. 5, no. 10, Oct. 2014, pp. 3292–304. Epmc, doi:10.1364/boe.5.003292. Full Text

Eldridge, Will J., et al. “Fast wide-field photothermal and quantitative phase cell imaging with optical lock-in detection.Biomedical Optics Express, vol. 5, no. 8, Aug. 2014, pp. 2517–25. Epmc, doi:10.1364/boe.5.002517. Full Text


Wax, A., and M. Crow. “Molecular imaging and microspectroscopy of live cells using immunotargeted nanoparticles.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2007. Scopus, doi:10.1364/fio.2007.ftud1. Full Text

Chalut, K. J., et al. “Improved design of a heterodyne angle-resolved low coherence interferometry system used for new chemoprevention and carcinogenesis studies.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2006. Scopus, doi:10.1364/bio.2006.sh19. Full Text

Curry, A., and A. Wax. “Epi-illumination darkfield through a microscope objective for imaging and spectral analysis of nanoparticle interaction with cells in culture.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2006. Scopus, doi:10.1364/bio.2006.sf7. Full Text

Braun, K. E., and A. Wax. “Improved simulations for measuring microbicidal gel thickness using low-coherence interferometry.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2006. Scopus, doi:10.1364/fio.2006.ftue4. Full Text

Braun, K. E., et al. “Quantitative characterization of spectrograph entrance slit width on roll-off of fourier domain optical coherence tomography signals.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2006. Scopus, doi:10.1364/bio.2006.tui39. Full Text

Curry, A. C., and A. Wax. “Sensitivity analysis of detecting plasmon resonance spectral shifts for nanoparticle based biosensors.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2006. Scopus, doi:10.1364/fio.2006.ftuk1. Full Text

Pyhtila, J. W., et al. “Endoscopic fourier-domain angle-resolved low coherence interferometry for assessing nuclear morphology in human epithelial tissues.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2006. Scopus, doi:10.1364/bio.2006.tud3. Full Text