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Pixel reassignment in image scanning microscopy: a re-evaluation

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Abstract

Image scanning microscopy is a technique based on confocal microscopy, in which the confocal pinhole is replaced by a detector array, and the resulting image is reconstructed, usually by the process of pixel reassignment. The detector array collects most of the fluorescent light, so the signal-to-noise ratio is much improved compared with confocal microscopy with a small pinhole, while the resolution is improved compared with conventional (wide-field) microscopy. In previous studies, it has usually been assumed that pixels should be reassigned by a constant factor, to a point midway between the illumination and detection spots. Here it is shown that the peak intensity of the effective point spread function (PSF) can be further increased by 4% by a new choice of the pixel reassignment factor. For an array of two Airy units, the peak of the effective PSF is 1.90 times that of a conventional microscope, and the transverse resolution is 1.53 times better. It is confirmed that image scanning microscopy gives optical sectioning strength identical to that of a confocal microscope with a pinhole equal to the size of the detector array. However, it is shown that image scanning microscopy exhibits axial resolution superior to a confocal microscope with a pinhole the same size as the detector array. For a two-Airy-unit array, the axial resolution is 1.34 times better than in a conventional microscope for the standard reassignment factor, and 1.28 times better for the new reassignment factor. The axial resolution of a confocal microscope with a two-Airy-unit pinhole is only 1.04 times better than conventional microscopy. We also examine the signal-to-noise ratio of a point object in a uniform background (called the detectability), and show that it is 1.6 times higher than in a confocal microscope.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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