KEYWORDS: Signal to noise ratio, Detection and tracking algorithms, Data modeling, Imaging systems, Cameras, Sensors, Electrons, Estimation theory, Interferometry, Phase interferometry, Phase imaging, Signal processing
Sensitivity is a critical index to measure the temporal fluctuation of the retrieved optical pathlength in quantitative phase imaging system. However, an accurate and comprehensive analysis for sensitivity evaluation is still lacking in current literature. In particular, previous theoretical studies for fundamental sensitivity based on Gaussian noise models are not applicable to modern cameras and detectors, which are dominated by shot noise. In this paper, we derive two shot noiselimited theoretical sensitivities, Cramér-Rao bound and algorithmic sensitivity for wavelength shifting interferometry, which is a major category of on-axis interferometry techniques in quantitative phase imaging. Based on the derivations, we show that the shot noise-limited model permits accurate estimation of theoretical sensitivities directly from measured data. These results can provide important insights into fundamental constraints in system performance and can be used to guide system design and optimization. The same concepts can be generalized to other quantitative phase imaging techniques as well.
A dual-modality birefringence/phase imaging system is presented. The system features a crystal retarder that provides polarization mixing and generates two interferometric carrier waves in a single signal spectrum. The retardation and orientation of sample birefringence can then be measured simultaneously based on spectral multiplexing interferometry. Further, with the addition of a Nomarski prism, the same setup can be used for quantitative differential interference contrast (DIC) imaging. Sample phase can then be obtained with two-dimensional integration. In addition, birefringence-induced phase error can be corrected using the birefringence data. This dual-modality approach is analyzed theoretically with Jones calculus and validated experimentally with malaria-infected red blood cells. The system generates not only corrected DIC and phase images, but a birefringence map that highlights the distribution of hemozoin crystals.
Digital holographic phase microscopy is a well-established quantitative phase imaging technique. However, interference artifacts from inside the system, typically induced by elements whose optical thickness are within the source coherence length, limit the imaging quality as well as sensitivity. In this paper, a swept laser source based technique is presented. Spectra acquired at a number of wavelengths, after Fourier Transform, can be used to identify the sources of the interference artifacts. With proper tuning of the optical pathlength difference between sample and reference arms, it is possible to avoid these artifacts and achieve sensitivity below 0.3nm. Performance of the proposed technique is examined in live cell imaging.