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The application of a cost-effective spectral imager to spatially segmenting absorptive and fluorescent chemical probes on the basis of their spectral characteristics has been demonstrated. The imager comprises a computer-controlled spectrally selective element that allows random access to a bandwidth of 15 nm between 400 and 700 nm. Further, the use of linear un-mixing of the spectral response of a sample at a single pixel has been facilitated using non-negative least squares fitting. Examples are given showing the separation of dye distributions, such as immunohistochemical markers for tumour hypoxia, from multiply stained thin tissue sections, imaged by trans-illumination microscopy. A quantitative study is also presented that shows a correlation between staining intensity and normal versus tumour tissue, and the advantage of reducing the amount of data captured for a particular study is also demonstrated. An example of the application to fluorescence microscopy is also given, showing the separation of green fluorescent protein, Cy3 and Cy5 at a single pixel. The system has been validated against samples of known optical density and of known overlapping combinations of coloured filters. These results confirm the ability of this technique to separate spectral responses that cannot be resolved with conventional colour imaging.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics

Publication Date





1729 - 1738