Based on image encoding in a serial-temporal format, optical time-stretch imaging entails a stringent requirement of state-of-the-art fast data acquisition unit in order to preserve high image resolution at an ultrahigh frame rate — hampering the widespread utilities of such technology. Here, we propose a pixel super-resolution (pixel-SR) technique tailored for time-stretch imaging that preserves pixel resolution at a relaxed sampling rate. It harnesses the subpixel shifts between image frames inherently introduced by asynchronous digital sampling of the continuous time-stretch imaging process. Precise pixel registration is thus accomplished without any active opto-mechanical subpixel-shift control or other additional hardware. Here, we present the experimental pixel-SR image reconstruction pipeline that restores high-resolution time-stretch images of microparticles and biological cells (phytoplankton) at a relaxed sampling rate (≈2–5 GSa/s)—more than four times lower than the originally required readout rate (20 GSa/s) — is thus effective for high-throughput label-free, morphology-based cellular classification down to single-cell precision. Upon integration with the high-throughput image processing technology, this pixel-SR time-stretch imaging technique represents a cost-effective and practical solution for large scale cell-based phenotypic screening in biomedical diagnosis and machine vision for quality control in manufacturing.
Bibliographical noteAuthor was not at UK HEI at time of submission (exception added), but article is also Open Access
- Time Stretch Imaging
- Pixel Super Resolution
- High-speed optical imaging
- Image Reconstruction pipeline
- Imaging flow cytometry