What Is Microscopic Image Processing?

M. Kayo

Microscopic image processing is used to produce and analyze images acquired from a microscope in fields such as medicine, biological research, and metallurgy. Many microscopes manufactured today include digital image processing capabilities, and microscopic image acquisition is now easier than in the past due to advances in digital imaging technology. These highly technical image processing techniques provide clear and sharp microscopic images. Two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) image manipulation also allow scientists to provide a more detailed analysis of microscopic images.

Microscopic image processing takes images produced by microscopes and analyzes them.
Microscopic image processing takes images produced by microscopes and analyzes them.

The first step in microscopic image processing is getting the initial image or picture. The silver halide microscopic images of the past have been replaced with digital image processing systems that are used to manipulate, edit, and store images captured through the lens of a microscope. The resolution level of digital imaging devices used in microscopic image processing can be as high as 32 bits, much higher than the eight or 12 bit levels found in typical digital cameras. Processing these high-resolution images typically requires the use of a powerful computer, a high-end digital camera and digital image processing software. Most modern microscopes are equipped with digital image acquisition capabilities.

Various types of image manipulation processes have been developed to provide a more accurate reproduction of microscopic images. Some of these processes are used to reduce image noise, adjust for brightness, increase contrast, or improve the image in some way. For example, getting rid of certain distortions in an image utilizes a process called deconvolution. This process makes the microscopic image sharper and clearer using a series of complex algorithms. These multidimensional microscopic image processing techniques allow scientists to capture images and convert them into more usable visual forms for study and research.

Microscopic image analysis is done using various computer applications, each of which provides a different type of information. For example, one microscopic image processing application may identify the boundaries of a cell wall, calculate the area of an object, or provide other measurements. Analysis software allows users to manipulate images in many different ways, such as creating a video sequence that will track the motion of particular objects or label parts of a cell. 2D and 3D image reconstruction and animation provide users with yet another set of analytical tools. Other capabilities include automatic counting functions, images annotation, or the addition of other data to the individual microscopic images.

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