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Sci Rep. 2016 Nov 23;6:37349. doi: 10.1038/srep37349.

Smart-aggregation imaging for single molecule localisation with SPAD cameras.

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The University of Edinburgh, Institute for Integrated Micro and Nano Systems, Edinburgh, UK.
Heriot-Watt University, Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK.
STMicroelectronics Imaging Division, 33 Pinkhill, Edinburgh EH12 7BF, UK.


Single molecule localisation microscopy (SMLM) has become an essential part of the super-resolution toolbox for probing cellular structure and function. The rapid evolution of these techniques has outstripped detector development and faster, more sensitive cameras are required to further improve localisation certainty. Single-photon avalanche photodiode (SPAD) array cameras offer single-photon sensitivity, very high frame rates and zero readout noise, making them a potentially ideal detector for ultra-fast imaging and SMLM experiments. However, performance traditionally falls behind that of emCCD and sCMOS devices due to lower photon detection efficiency. Here we demonstrate, both experimentally and through simulations, that the sensitivity of a binary SPAD camera in SMLM experiments can be improved significantly by aggregating only frames containing signal, and that this leads to smaller datasets and competitive performance with that of existing detectors. The simulations also indicate that with predicted future advances in SPAD camera technology, SPAD devices will outperform existing scientific cameras when capturing fast temporal dynamics.

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