Optical diffraction tomography with fully and partially coherent illumination in high numerical aperture label-free microscopy

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Quantitative label-free imaging is an important tool for the study of living microorganisms that, during the last decade, has attracted wide attention from the optical community. Optical diffraction tomography (ODT) is probably the most relevant technique for quantitative label-free 3D imaging applied in wide-field microscopy in the visible range. The ODT is usually performed using spatially coherent light illumination and specially designed holographic microscopes. Nevertheless, the ODT is also compatible with partially coherent illumination and can be realized in conventional wide-field microscopes by applying refocusing techniques, as it has been recently demonstrated. Here, we compare these two ODT modalities, underlining their pros and cons and discussing the optical setups for their implementation. In particular, we pay special attention to a system that is compatible with a conventional wide-field microscope that can be used for both ODT modalities. It consists of two easily attachable modules: the first for sample illumination engineering based on digital light processing technology; the other for focus scanning by using an electrically driven tunable lens. This hardware allows for a programmable selection of the wavelength and the illumination design, and provides fast data acquisition as well. Its performance is experimentally demonstrated in the case of ODT with partially coherent illumination providing speckle-free 3D quantitative imaging.
© 2018 Optical Society of America. The Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad is acknowledged for funding the project TEC2014-57394-P.