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American Institute of Physics



Book Review

Optical Imaging and Microscopy: Techniques and Advanced Systems
Peter Török and Fu-Jen Kao, eds.
Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, 2003
395 pp.
ISBN 3-540-43493-3

Reviewed by DeVon W. Griffin

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Optical Imaging coverSince the advent of commercially available confocal microscope systems in the late 1980s, physicists have made increasing contributions to the field of microscopy in general, and to biological microscopy in particular. Because a microscope is nothing more than a lens with a high numerical aperture, attached to a rigid mounting structure, with an ability to precisely translate a sample, any technique from an optics laboratory can be used with a microscope. That fact means that there is a broad range of topics from which to choose when writing a book discussing microscopy techniques.

In the preface to Optical Imaging and Microscopy, editors Peter Török and Fu-Jen Kao state their two goals: first, to show the interconnected nature of many different fields of optics, and second, to present summaries from imaging-related subjects that either are difficult to find or are generally not included in the same work. As a result, the book presents a rather eclectic collection of optical techniques. While some correlations exist—the authors discuss the relationship between laser scanning confocal microscopy and the optics of optical data storage devices, for example—to suggest that all the topics are related is a stretch. This edited work reads more like a handbook covering a broad range of subjects than a concise reference book with a consistent theme. Different authors were responsible for each chapter, and while they are recognized experts in their respective fields, the format does not permit expansive discussions. Although the theoretical discussions are excellent, practical implementations are sketchy.

Interestingly, the chapter discussing diffractive readout of optical disks by Joseph Braat and colleagues was one of the most useful because of an excellent presentation of both practical implementation and the theoretical underpinnings of the devices. On the other hand, the discussion of optical trapping of small particles by Alexander Rohrbach and his co-workers was disappointing because neither the practical nor the theoretical treatments were sufficiently deep to be useful without numerous other references. In addition, practicing microscopists generally wish to use techniques such as confocal or two-photon microscopy, which narrow the depth of field rather than extend it. Thus, the chapters on depth-of-field control and wavefront coding may not pertain to many readers.

Although the back cover states that the book is intended for biological microscopists, the theoretical level of the book is far beyond the training of the typical biologist: The writers presuppose not only a high facility in mathematics but also familiarity with concepts from quantum mechanics. Furthermore, none of the cutting-edge techniques used in biological microscopy, such as FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer), FRAP (fluorescence recovery after photobleaching), or FLIM (fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy), are discussed. As a result, the audience for this book will be graduate-level physics students or physical science researchers seeking to learn more about a specific technique. Even then, students may be best advised to seek works directly aimed at their technique of interest.

DeVon W. Griffin is an electronics engineer at NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio. He serves as the microscopy specialist for a light microscope system designed to include laser tweezers and spectrophotometry, which will be used on-board the International Space Station.