High-contrast multifocus microscopy with a single camera and z-splitter prism

Sheng Xiao, Howard Gritton, Hua An Tseng, Dana Zemel, Xue Han, Jerome Mertz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Optical microscopy has been an indispensable tool for studying complex biological systems, but is often hampered by problems of speed and complexity when performing 3D volumetric imaging. Here, we present a multifocus imaging strategy based on the use of a simple z-splitter prism that can be assembled from off-the-shelf components. Our technique enables a widefield image stack to be distributed onto a single camera and recorded simultaneously. We exploit the volumetric nature of our image acquisition by further introducing a novel extended-volume 3D deconvolution strategy to suppress far-out-of-focus fluorescence background to significantly improve the contrast of our recorded images, conferring to our system a capacity for quasi-optical sectioning. By swapping in different z-splitter configurations, we can prioritize high speed or large 3D field-of-view imaging depending on the application of interest. Moreover, our system can be readily applied to a variety of imaging modalities in addition to fluorescence, such as phase-contrast and darkfield imaging. Because of its simplicity, versatility, and performance, we believe our system will be a useful tool for general biological or biomedical imaging applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1477-1486
Number of pages10
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 22 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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