Fluorescence imaging is generally inefficient, as the majority of the light emitted from the biological sample does not get recorded. This means that researchers need to collect more light over a longer time to improve the clarity of the picture. It is not unlike the problem photographers face when they try to take a photo in low light. Usually they have to choose between increasing the amount of light drastically by using a flash — or keeping the shutter open for longer than usual. However, sensitive biological samples, such as individual cells or worm embryos, are highly sensitive to light and can be damaged or even killed by traditional microscopy, which uses strong light for an extended period of time.
Previously, Yicong Wu, Ph.D., Staff Scientist, and Hari Shroff, Ph.D., Chief of the NIBIB High Resolution Optical Imaging team developed new microscopes to reduce the amount of light needed to image biological sample. Now, they’ve added another lens to supplement their earlier dual-view microscope. The new lens images the sample from below, thus capturing even more light emitted from the sample.
Wu and Shroff then collaborated with Patrick La Riviere, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago’s Radiology Department. Riviere’s research focuses on producing algorithms that allow radiologists to use less ionizing radiation in CT scans on humans. Together with Riviere’s team, they were able to design and implement algorithms that merge the three images into one (a process called deconvolution) — creating a sharper, clearer 3D image than previously possible.