The phase contrast (PC) method is one of the most impactful developments in the four-century long history of microscopy. It allows for intrinsic, nondestructive contrast of transparent specimens, such as live cells. However, PC is plagued by the halo artifact, a result of insufficient spatial coherence in the illumination field, which limits its applicability. We present a new approach for retrieving halo-free phase contrast microscopy (hfPC) images by upgrading the conventional PC microscope with an external interferometric module, which generates sufficient data for reversing the halo artifact. Measuring four independent intensity images, our approach first measures haloed phase maps of the sample. We solve for the halo-free sample transmission function by using a physical model of the image formation under partial spatial coherence. Using this halo-free sample transmission, we can numerically generate artifact-free PC images. Furthermore, this transmission can be further used to obtain quantitative information about the sample, e.g., the thickness with known refractive indices, dry mass of live cells during their cycles. We tested our hfPC method on various control samples, e.g., beads, pillars and validated its potential for biological investigation by imaging live HeLa cells, red blood cells, and neurons.
Tan H. Nguyen, Mikhail E. Kandel, Haadi M. Shakir, Catherine Best, Minh N. Do, and Gabriel Popescu, "Halo-free phase contrast microscopy (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10074, Quantitative Phase Imaging III, 1007404 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 29, 2017; Published: 24 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2256892.5380600139001.
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