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The Biophysical Journal





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February 2015



We show that the commonly used Rayleigh-Debye method for calculating light scattering can lead to significant errors when used for describing scattering from dilute solutions of long rigid polymers, errors that can be overcome by use of the easily applied Shifrin approximation. In order to show the extent of the discrepancies between the two methods, we have performed calculations at normal incidence both for polarized and unpolarized incident light with the scattering intensity determined as a function of polarization angle and of scattering angle, assuming that the incident light is in a spectral region where the absorption of hemoglobin is small. When the Shifrin method is used, the calculated intensities using either polarized or unpolarized scattered light give information about the alignment of polymers, a feature that is lost in the Rayleigh-Debye approximation because the effect of the asymmetric shape of the scatterer on the incoming polarized electric field is ignored. Using sickle hemoglobin polymers as an example, we have calculated the intensity of light scattering using both approaches and found that, for totally aligned polymers within parallel planes, the difference can be as large as 25%, when the incident electric field is perpendicular to the polymers, for near forward or near backward scattering (00 or 1800 scattering angle), but becomes zero as the scattering angle approaches 900. For randomly oriented polymers within a plane, or for incident unpolarized light for either totally oriented or randomly oriented polymers, the difference between the two results for near forward or near backward scattering is - 15%.


From The Biophysical Journal, Bishop, M.F., Calculations of scattered light from rigid polymers by Shifrin and Rayleigh-Debye approximations, Vol. 56, Page 911. Copyright © 1989 The Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

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