2011 Volume 47 Issue 1 Pages 31-39
Optical microscopes are widely used in biological and medical researches. By using the microscope, we can observe cellular movements including intracellular ions and molecules tagged with fluorescent dyes at a high magnification. However, a freely motile cell easily escapes from a 3D field of view of the typical microscope. Therefore, we propose a novel auto-focusing algorithm and develop a auto-focusing and tracking microscope. XYZ positions of a microscopic stage are feedback controlled to focus and track the cell automatically. A bright-field image is used to estimate a cellular position. XY centroids are used to estimate XY positions of the tracked cell. To estimate Z position, we use a diffraction pattern around the cell membrane. This estimation method is so-called Depth from Diffraction (DFDi). However, this method is not robust for individual differences between cells because the diffraction pattern depends on each cellular shape. Therefore, in this study, we propose a real-time correction of DFDi by using 2D Laplacian of an intracellular area as a goodness of the focus. To evaluate the performance of our developed algorithm and microscope, we auto-focus and track a freely moving paramecium. In this experimental result, the paramecium is auto-focused and kept inside the scope of the microscope during 45s. The evaluated focal error is within 5µm, while a length and a thickness of the paramecium are about 200µm and 50µm, respectively.