The use of a charge-coupled device for quantitative optical microscopy of biological structures

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Science  02 Oct 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4823, pp. 36-41
DOI: 10.1126/science.3116667


The properties of a charge-coupled device (CCD) and its application to the high-resolution analysis of biological structures by optical microscopy are described. The CCD, with its high resolution, high sensitivity, wide dynamic range, photometric accuracy, and geometric stability, can provide data of such high quality that quantitative analysis on two- and three-dimensional microscopic images is possible. For example, the three-dimensional imaging properties of an epifluorescence microscope have been quantitatively determined with the CCD. This description of the imaging properties of the microscope, and the high-quality image data provided by the CCD, allow sophisticated computational image processing methods to be used that greatly improve the effective resolution obtainable for biological structures. Image processing techniques revealed fine substructures in Drosophila embryonic diploid chromosomes in two and three dimensions. The same approach can be extended to structures as small as yeast chromosomes or to other problems in structural cell biology.