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An oscillatory shear configuration was developed to improve understanding of structural evolution during deformation. It combines an inverted confocal scanning laser microscope (CSLM) and a special sample holder that can apply to the sample specific deformation: oscillatory shear or steady strain. In this configuration, a zero-velocity plane is created in the sample by moving two plates in opposite directions, thereby providing stable observation conditions of the structural behavior under deformation. The configuration also includes diffusion wave spectroscopy (DWS) to monitor the network properties via particle mobility under static and dynamic conditions. CSLM and DWS can be performed simultaneously and three-dimensional images can be obtained under static conditions. This configuration is mainly used to study mechanistic phenomena like particle interaction, aggregation, gelation and network disintegration, interactions at interfaces under static and dynamic conditions in semisolid food materials (desserts, dressings, sauces, dairy products) and in nonfood materials (mineral emulsions, etc.). Preliminary data obtained with this new oscillatory shear configuration are described that demonstrate their capabilities and the potential contribution to other areas of application also. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.