Nonmechanical parfocal and autofocus features based on wave propagation distribution in lensfree holographic microscopy
Performing long-term cell observations is a non-trivial task for conventional optical microscopy, since it is usually not compatible with environments of an incubator and its temperature and humidity requirements. Lensless holographic microscopy, being entirely based on semiconductor chips without lenses and without any moving parts, has proven to be a very interesting alternative to conventional microscopy. Here, we report on the integration of a computational parfocal feature, which operates based on wave propagation distribution analysis, to perform a fast autofocusing process. This unique non-mechanical focusing approach was implemented to keep the imaged object staying in-focus during continuous long-term and real-time recordings. A light-emitting diode (LED) combined with pinhole setup was used to realize a point light source, leading to a resolution down to 2.76 μm. Our approach delivers not only in-focus sharp images of dynamic cells, but also three-dimensional (3D) information on their (x, y, z)-positions. System reliability tests were conducted inside a sealed incubator to monitor cultures of three different biological living cells (i.e., MIN6, neuroblastoma (SH-SY5Y), and Prorocentrum minimum). Altogether, this autofocusing framework enables new opportunities for highly integrated microscopic imaging and dynamic tracking of moving objects in harsh environments with large sample areas.