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

Yang, C., et al. “Interferometric phase-dispersion microscopy.” Optics Letters, vol. 25, no. 20, Oct. 2000, pp. 1526–28. Scopus, doi:10.1364/OL.25.001526. Full Text

Wax, A., et al. “Time-resolved phase-space distributions for light backscattered from a disordered medium.Physical Review Letters, vol. 85, no. 1, July 2000, pp. 66–69. Epmc, doi:10.1103/physrevlett.85.66. Full Text

Thomas, John E., et al. “Wigner phase space distribution and coherence tomography.” Optical Pulse and Beam Propagation Ii, SPIE, Apr. 2000. Crossref, doi:10.1117/12.382047. Full Text

Yang, C., et al. “Feasibility of field-based light scattering spectroscopy.Journal of Biomedical Optics, vol. 5, no. 2, Apr. 2000, pp. 138–43. Epmc, doi:10.1117/1.429980. Full Text

Wax, A., et al. “Time-resolved optical phase space distributions for coherent backscatter.” Proceedings of Spie  the International Society for Optical Engineering, vol. 4001, Jan. 2000, pp. 130–34.

Thomas, J. E., et al. “Wigner phase space distributions and coherence tomography.” Proceedings of Spie  the International Society for Optical Engineering, vol. 3914, Jan. 2000, pp. 363–71.

Lee, K. F., et al. “Heterodyne measurement of Wigner distributions for classical optical fields.Optics Letters, vol. 24, no. 19, Oct. 1999, pp. 1370–72. Epmc, doi:10.1364/ol.24.001370. Full Text

Wax, A., et al. “Characterizing the Coherence of Broadband Sources using Optical Phase Space Contours.Journal of Biomedical Optics, vol. 4, no. 4, Oct. 1999, pp. 482–89. Epmc, doi:10.1117/1.429961. Full Text

Wax, A., et al. “Optical phase-space distributions for low-coherence light.Optics Letters, vol. 24, no. 17, Sept. 1999, pp. 1188–90. Epmc, doi:10.1364/ol.24.001188. Full Text

Wax, A., and J. E. Thomas. “Measurement of smoothed Wigner phase space distributions for coherence tomography.” Proceedings of Spie  the International Society for Optical Engineering, vol. 3726, Jan. 1999, pp. 494–501. Scopus, doi:10.1117/12.341431. Full Text