Phase-sensitive optical coherence tomography imaging of the tissue motion within the organ of Corti at a subnanometer scale: A preliminary study

Ruikang K. Wang, Alfred L. Nuttall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

85 Scopus citations


Hearing loss can mean severe impairment to the quality of life. However, the biomechanical mechanisms of how the hearing organ, i.e., the organ of Corti (OC), responds to sound are still elusive, largely because there is currently no means available to image the 3-D motion characteristics of the OC. We present a novel use of the phase-sensitive spectral domain optical coherence tomography (PSOCT) to characterize the motion of cellular compartments within the OC at a subnanometer scale. The PSOCT system operates at 1310 nm with a spatial resolution of ∼16 μm and an imaging speed of 47,000 A-lines/s. The phase changes of the spectral interferograms induced by the localized tissue motion are used to quantify the vibration magnitude. Fourier transform analysis of the phase changes improves the system sensitivity to sense minute vibrations smaller than 1 nm. We demonstrate that the PSOCT system is feasible to image the meaningful vibration of cellular compartments within the OC with an unprecedented sensitivity down to ∼0.5 Å.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number056005
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010



  • Hearing
  • Organ of Corti
  • Phase-sensitive measurement
  • Spectral domain optical coherence tomography
  • Tissue nanomotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering

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