Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Pradhan, Prabhakar

Committee Member

Clay, R. Torsten

Committee Member

Pierce, Donna

Committee Member

Taninah, Ahmad

Committee Member

Arnoldus, Henk F.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Campus Access Only 1 Year

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Physics and Astronomy


Optical scattering techniques are suitable probes for studying weak disordered refractive index media such as biological cells and tissues. Several brain diseases accompany the nano-to-submicron scales’ structural alterations of the basic building blocks of cells/tissues in the brain and skin fibroblasts. For example, several molecular modifications such as DNA methylation, and histone degradation occur in cells earlier than morphological changes detectable at a microscopic level. These alterations also change the refractive index structures of the cells/tissues at the nano-to-submicron scales. Unfortunately, traditional methods do not allow the detection of these alterations in the early stages of diseases. Recent developments in mesoscopic optical physics-based techniques can probe these alterations. Particularly, mesoscopic light transport and localization approaches enable the measurements and quantifications of the degree of structural alterations in the cells/tissues and unprecedented information on progressive brain diseases.

This dissertation provides a detailed study of the structural changes at nano-to-submicron levels in human brain cells/tissues and human skin fibroblasts in two major neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD), using dual spectroscopic imaging techniques, namely partial wave spectroscopy (PWS) for light transport and inverse participation ratio (IPR) for weak light localization. In particular, a nanoscale-sensitive advanced PWS technique is used to quantify the structural alterations in cells/tissues. Further, the IPR technique is used to quantify molecular-specific mass density alterations within cells using their light localization properties via confocal imaging. These dual optical scattering techniques were utilized to measure the degree of structural disorders, termed ‘disorder strength’, by distinguishing the diseased cells/tissues from normal ones in the human brain and human skin fibroblasts due to neurodegenerative diseases. Our results show that the degree of structural disorder (����) increases in the affected cells and tissues relative to the normal, both at the cellular/tissue level and in the DNA molecular mass density structural levels. The results of the studies strongly reveal that the degree of structural disorder strength (����) is an effective biomarker/numerical indicator for brain disease diagnostics.