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RESTORATION OF WEAK PHASE-CONTRAST IMAGES RECORDED WITH A HIGH DEGREE OF DEFOCUS: THE "TWIN IMAGE" PROBLEM ASSOCIATED WITH CTF CORRECTION

  • Author(s): Downing, Kenneth H.
  • et al.
Abstract

Relatively large values of objective-lens defocus must normally be used to produce detectable levels of image contrast for unstained biological specimens, which are generally weak phase objects. As a result, a subsequent restoration operation must be used to correct for oscillations in the contrast transfer function (CTF) at higher resolution. Currently used methods of CTF-correction assume the ideal case in which Friedel mates in the scattered wave have contributed pairs of Fourier components that overlap with one another in the image plane. This "ideal" situation may be only poorly satisfied, or not satisfied at all, as the particle size gets smaller, the defocus value gets larger, and the resolution gets higher. We have therefore investigated whether currently used methods of CTF correction are also effective in restoring the single-sideband image information that becomes displaced (delocalized) by half (or more) the diameter of a particle of finite size. Computer simulations are used to show that restoration either by "phase flipping" or by multiplying by the CTF recovers only about half of the delocalized information. The other half of the delocalized information goes into a doubly defocused "twin" image of the type produced during optical reconstruction of an in-line hologram. Restoration with a Wiener filter is effective in recovering the delocalized information only when the signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) is orders of magnitude higher than that which exists in low-dose images of biological specimens, in which case the Wiener filter approaches division by the CTF (i.e. the formal inverse). For realistic values of the S/N, however, the "twin image" problem seen with a Wiener filter is very similar to that seen when either phase flipping or multiplying by the CTF are used for restoration. The results of these simulations suggest that CTF correction is a poor alternative to using a Zernike-type phase plate when imaging biological specimens, in which case the images can be recorded in a close-to-focus condition, and delocalization of high-resolution information is thus minimized.

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