Direct imaging of phase objects enables conventional deconvolution in bright field light microscopy
Hernández Candia, Carmen Noemí
Gutiérrez Medina, Braulio
"In transmitted optical microscopy, absorption structure and phase structure of the specimen determine the three-dimensional intensity distribution of the image. The elementary impulse responses of the bright field microscope therefore consist of separate absorptive and phase components, precluding general application of linear, conventional deconvolution processing methods to improve image contrast and resolution. However, conventional deconvolution can be applied in the case of pure phase (or pure absorptive) objects if the corresponding phase (or absorptive) impulse responses of the microscope are known. In this work, we present direct measurements of the phase point-and line-spread functions of a high-aperture microscope operating in transmitted bright field. Polystyrene nanoparticles and microtubules (biological polymer filaments) serve as the pure phase point and line objects, respectively, that are imaged with high contrast and low noise using standard microscopy plus digital image processing. Our experimental results agree with a proposed model for the response functions, and confirm previous theoretical predictions. Finally, we use the measured phase point-spread function to apply conventional deconvolution on the bright field images of living, unstained bacteria, resulting in improved definition of cell boundaries and sub-cellular features. These developments demonstrate practical application of standard restoration methods to improve imaging of phase objects such as cells in transmitted light microscopy."