Differential Interference Contrast Light Microscopy


Differential interference contrast (DIC) is a technique in light microscopy that maintains high resolving power because it introduces contrast optically into images of transparent specimens. The image is characterized by a three‐dimensional appearance (a pseudo‐relief) in which contrast and colour may be varied.

Keywords: contrast enhancement; DIC; light microscope; optical sectioning; pseudo‐relief

Figure 1.

A diagrammatic representation of the transmitted‐light Nomarski DIC system.

Figure 2.

Epithelial cheek cells in phase contrast (a), in DIC pseudo‐relief adjusted for most effective contrast (b), and in DIC adjusted for the zero or ‘dark‐field’ position (c). The bar represents 10 μm.

Figure 3.

Cultured fibroblasts from Monodelphus domestica: phase contrast (a), compared with DIC. (b, c). In the two very different DIC images, the same focus has been maintained but the shearing direction has been rotated through 90° (equivalent to rotating the specimen through 90°). The bar represents 10 μm.


Further Reading

Inoué S and Spring KR (1997) Video Microscopy. The Fundamentals, 2nd edn. New York: Plenum Press.

Oldfield R (1994) Light Microscopy. An Illustrated Guide. London: Wolfe Publications.

Pluta M (1989) Specialised Methods. Advanced Light Microscopy, vol. 2. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

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How to Cite close
Oldfield, Ronald J(Apr 2001) Differential Interference Contrast Light Microscopy. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0002989]