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allows structure in transparent to be visualized by exploiting changes in refractive index


Differential interference contrast microscopy (Nomarski DIC) is a phase contrast technique that allows structure in transparent to be visualized by exploiting changes in refractive index. In contrast to conventional phase contrast techniques, which are based on changes in optical path length, DIC is based on the gradient of the optical path length (rate of change in wavefront shear). Steep gradients produce the high contrast and 3-D relief effect that is characteristic of DIC.


Contrast in DIC imaging is produced solely through an optical effect. This technique, therefore, is ideal for unstained living specimens (for example, cultured cells, embryos, blood smears, diatoms, protozoa). DIC provides morphological information without the need to use potentially toxic dyes and fluorophores. DIC is, however, often used in association with fluorescence to reveal morphological features of the specimen. It is also used for the examination of polymers and other materials.


DIC imaging requires several optical components; a polarizer, prism and specialized condenser. The correct set up and alignment of these components is central to successful DIC imaging. DIC capability can be installed on almost any brightfield transmitted, reflected, upright or inverted microscope.


Nikon's Eclipse Ni Series of upright microscopes, Ti inverted series, and LV series have DIC capability. NIS-Elements Confocal software used in Nikon's C2+ confocal systems enables easy switching between DIC and fluorescence imaging modes. 


Differential Interference Contrast (DIC) Microscopy
Review articles, tutorials, image and video galleries.
DIC Microscope Component Alignment
Interactive tutorial covering many of the important aspects recommended for satisfactory microscope alignment.
Comparison of phase contrast and DIC
Interactive tutorial exploring many of the similarities and differences exhibited between images captured with phase contrast and DIC microscopy.

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