Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Potter, Robert L.

Co-Major Professor

Garcia-Rubio, Luis H.


multiwavelength UV-visible spectrophotometry, hemoglobin, red blood cell, Mie theory, light scattering, hypochromism


Particle analysis using multiwavelength UV-visible spectroscopy provides the potential for extracting quantitative red blood cell information, such as hemoglobin concentration, cell size, and cell count. However, if there is a significant presence of hypochromism as a result of the concentrated hemoglobin (physiological value of 33%), successful quantification of red cell values would require a correction. Hypochromism has been traditionally defined as a decrease in absorption relative to the values expected from the Beer-Lambert Law due to electronic interactions of chromophores residing in close proximity of one another. This phenomenon has been suggested to be present in macroscopic systems composed of strong chromophores such as nucleic acids, chlorophyll, and hemoglobin.

The study presented in this dissertation examines the presence of hypochromism in red blood cells as a part of a larger goal to qualitatively and quantatively characterize red blood cells using multiwavelength UV-visible spectroscopy. The strategy of the study was three-fold: 1) to determine the instrumental configuration that would provide the most complete information in the acquired spectra, 2) to develop an experimental model system in which the hemoglobin content in red blood cells could be modified to various concentrations, and 3) to implement an interpretation model based on light scattering theory (which accounts for both the scattering and absorption components of the optical density spectrum) to provide quantitative information for the experimental system.

By this process, hypochromicity was redefined into two categories with molecular hypochromicity representing the traditional definition and macroscopic hypochromicity being an attenuation of the absorption component due to a scattering-related effect. Successful simulations of experimental red cell spectra containing various amounts of hemoglobin were obtained using the theoretical model. Furthermore, successful quantitative interpretation of the red blood cell spectra was achieved in the context of corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, corpuscular volume, and cell count solely by accounting for the scattering and absorption effects of the particle, indicating that molecular hypochromicity was insignificant in this macroscopic system.