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Microsc Res Tech. 2012 Apr;75(4):537-54. doi: 10.1002/jemt.21089. Epub 2011 Oct 14.

Variable bright-darkfield-contrast, a new illumination technique for improved visualizations of complex structured transparent specimens.

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Laboratory for Applied Microscopy Research, Marienburgstr. 23, D-56859 Bullay, Germany.


Variable bright-darkfield contrast (VBDC) is a new technique in light microscopy which promises significant improvements in imaging of transparent colorless specimens especially when characterized by a high regional thickness and a complex three-dimensional architecture. By a particular light pathway, two brightfield- and darkfield-like partial images are simultaneously superimposed so that the brightfield-like absorption image based on the principal zeroth order maximum interferes with the darkfield-like reflection image which is based on the secondary maxima. The background brightness and character of the resulting image can be continuously modulated from a brightfield-dominated to a darkfield-dominated appearance. When the weighting of the dark- and brightfield components is balanced, medium background brightness will result showing the specimen in a phase- or interference contrast-like manner. Specimens can either be illuminated axially/concentrically or obliquely/eccentrically. In oblique illumination, the angle of incidence and grade of eccentricity can be continuously changed. The condenser aperture diaphragm can be used for improvements of the image quality in the same manner as usual in standard brightfield illumination. By this means, the illumination can be optimally adjusted to the specific properties of the specimen. In VBDC, the image contrast is higher than in normal brightfield illumination, blooming and scattering are lower than in standard darkfield examinations, and any haloing is significantly reduced or absent. Although axial resolution and depth of field are higher than in concurrent standard techniques, the lateral resolution is not visibly reduced. Three dimensional structures, reliefs and fine textures can be perceived in superior clarity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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