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

Chuchuen, Oranat, et al. “Label-free analysis of tenofovir delivery to vaginal tissue using co-registered confocal Raman spectroscopy and optical coherence tomography.Plos One, vol. 12, no. 9, Jan. 2017, p. e0185633. Epmc, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0185633. Full Text

Wax, Adam. “Advances in functional OCT.” Laser Focus World, vol. 53, no. 1, PENNWELL PUBL CO, Jan. 2017, pp. 66–71.

Zhao, Yang, et al. “Deep imaging of absorption and scattering features by multispectral multiple scattering low coherence interferometry.Biomed Opt Express, vol. 7, no. 10, Oct. 2016, pp. 3916–26. Pubmed, doi:10.1364/BOE.7.003916. Full Text

Wax, A., and K. Chu. “Found in translation: Biophotonics from lab to clinic.” Optics and Photonics News, vol. 27, no. 9, Sept. 2016, pp. 34–41. Scopus, doi:10.1364/OPN.27.9.000034. Full Text

Rinehart, Matthew T., et al. “Hemoglobin consumption by P. falciparum in individual erythrocytes imaged via quantitative phase spectroscopy.Sci Rep, vol. 6, Apr. 2016, p. 24461. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/srep24461. Full Text

Kim, Sanghoon, et al. “Analyzing spatial correlations in tissue using angle-resolved low coherence interferometry measurements guided by co-located optical coherence tomography.Biomed Opt Express, vol. 7, no. 4, Apr. 2016, pp. 1400–14. Pubmed, doi:10.1364/BOE.7.001400. Full Text

Eldridge, Will J., et al. “Imaging deformation of adherent cells due to shear stress using quantitative phase imaging.Optics Letters, vol. 41, no. 2, Jan. 2016, pp. 352–55. Epmc, doi:10.1364/ol.41.000352. Full Text

Park, Han Sang, et al. “Automated Detection of P. falciparum Using Machine Learning Algorithms with Quantitative Phase Images of Unstained Cells.Plos One, vol. 11, no. 9, 2016, p. e0163045. Pubmed, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0163045. Full Text Open Access Copy

Chowdhury, Shwetadwip, et al. “Spatial frequency-domain multiplexed microscopy for simultaneous, single-camera, one-shot, fluorescent, and quantitative-phase imaging.Optics Letters, vol. 40, no. 21, Nov. 2015, pp. 4839–42. Epmc, doi:10.1364/ol.40.004839. Full Text

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


Rinehart, M. T., et al. “Whole-cell analysis of cardiomyocytes with combined quantitative phase and two-channel fluorescence microscopy.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1364/omp.2011.oma4. Full Text

Seekell, K., et al. “Controlled synthesis of gold nanorods and application to brain tumor delineation.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1364/fio.2011.fwl4. Full Text

Rinehart, M. T., et al. “Whole-cell analysis of cardiomyocytes with combined quantitative phase and two-channel fluorescence microscopy.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2011.

Skala, M. C., et al. “Photothermal optical coherence tomography for molecular imaging.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1364/omp.2011.otua3. Full Text

Zhu, Y., et al. “Spectral-domain differential interference contrast microscopy.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2011.

Wax, A. “Coherence imaging.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2010. Scopus, doi:10.1364/fio.2010.ftuy4. Full Text

Kim, K. H., et al. “Development of an integrated multiplexed low coherence interferometer and fluorescence clinical endoscope.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2009. Scopus, doi:10.1364/fio.2009.jwc75. Full Text

Rinehart, M., et al. “Quantitative phase microscopy with multi-wavelength unwrapping and tomographic 3d reconstruction.” Biomedical Optics, Biomed 2008, 2008. Scopus, doi:10.1364/biomed.2008.jma7. Full Text

Wax, A. “Analyzing light scattering from aspherical nuclei for cell biology and clinical applications.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2008. Scopus, doi:10.1364/ls.2008.lthd1. Full Text