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

Zhu, Yizheng, et al. “Angle-resolved low-coherence interferometry: an optical biopsy technique for clinical detection of dysplasia in Barrett's esophagus.Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, vol. 6, no. 1, Feb. 2012, pp. 37–41. Epmc, doi:10.1586/egh.11.83. Full Text

Satterwhite, L. L., et al. “Novel optical signature for sickle cell trait red blood cells.” Frontiers in Optics, Fio 2012, Jan. 2012. Scopus, doi:10.1364/fio.2012.fw6a.10. Full Text

Wax, A. “Coherence imaging for early cancer detection.” Cleo: Applications and Technology, Cleo at 2012, Jan. 2012. Scopus, doi:10.1364/cleo_at.2012.ath1m.1. Full Text

Wax, A., et al. “Optical spectroscopy of biological cells.” Advances in Optics and Photonics, vol. 4, no. 3, Jan. 2012, pp. 322–78. Scopus, doi:10.1364/AOP.4.000322. Full Text

Matthews, Thomas E., and Adam Wax. “High-efficiency diffuse Raman spectroscopy through a fiber bundle.Conference Proceedings : ... Annual International Conference of the Ieee Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Ieee Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Annual Conference, vol. 2012, Jan. 2012, pp. 1181–83. Epmc, doi:10.1109/embc.2012.6346147. Full Text

Li, Y., et al. “Assessing nanoparticle concentration using METRiCS optical coherence tomography.” Biomedical Optics, Biomed 2012, Jan. 2012. Scopus, doi:10.1364/biomed.2012.bw2a.7. Full Text

Zhu, Y., et al. “Spectral-domain differential interference contrast (SD-DIC) microscopy for measuring live cell dynamics.” Biomedical Optics, Biomed 2012, Jan. 2012. Scopus, doi:10.1364/biomed.2012.bm4b.5. Full Text

Kim, S., et al. “Spectrally multiplexed photothermal OCT and novel detection methods.” Cleo: Applications and Technology, Cleo at 2012, Jan. 2012. Scopus, doi:10.1364/cleo_at.2012.jth3j.3. Full Text

Robles, Francisco E., et al. “Molecular imaging true-colour spectroscopic optical coherence tomography.Nature Photonics, vol. 5, no. 12, Dec. 2011, pp. 744–47. Epmc, doi:10.1038/nphoton.2011.257. Full Text

Robles, Francisco E., et al. “Nonlinear phase dispersion spectroscopy.Optics Letters, vol. 36, no. 23, Dec. 2011, pp. 4665–67. Epmc, doi:10.1364/ol.36.004665. Full Text