Orientation-independent differential interference contrast microscopy
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KeywordImage enhancement; Cell analysis; Image reconstruction techniques; Medical and biological imaging; Medical optics instrumentation; Microscopy
The image in a regular DIC microscope reflects the orientation of the prism shear direction and the optical path gradients in a phase specimen. If the shear direction lies parallel to the specimen boundary no contrast is generated. Also a bias retardance is generally introduced, which creates a gray background and reduces image contrast. Here we describe the theoretical foundation for a new DIC technique, which records phase gradients independently of their orientation and with the digitally generated gradient magnitude image as well as the optical path distribution image free from the gray background. Separate images can show the magnitude distribution of the optical path gradients and of the azimuths, or the two images can be combined into one picture e.g., with the brightness representing magnitudes and color showing azimuths respectively. For experimental verification of the proposed technique we investigated various specimens such as glass rods embedded in Permount, Siemens star nano-fabricated in 90-nm thick silicon oxide layer, Bovine pulmonary artery endothelial cell, etc, using regular DIC optics on a microscope equipped with a precision rotating stage. Several images were recorded with the specimen oriented in different directions, but with the prism bias unchanged, followed by digital alignment and processing of the images. The results demonstrate that the proposed DIC technique can successfully image and measure phase gradients of transparent specimens, independent of the directions of the gradient. The orientation-independent DIC data obtained can also be used to compute the quantitative distribution of specimen phase or to generate enhanced, regular DIC images with any desired shear direction. We are currently developing a new device using special DIC prisms, which allows the bias and shear directions to be switched rapidly without the need to mechanically rotate the specimen or the prism (US Patent Application 2005-0152030). With the new system an orientation independent DIC image should be obtained in a fraction of a second. A detailed description of the new system will be given in a future publication.
Author Posting. © The Authors, 2006. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Optical Society of America for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Applied Optics 45 (2006): 460-469, doi:10.1364/AO.45.000460.
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