Photophysical image analysis: Unsupervised probabilistic thresholding for images from electron-multiplying charge-coupled devices
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2024

We introduce the concept photophysical image analysis (PIA) and an associated pipeline for unsupervised probabilistic image thresholding for images recorded by electron-multiplying charge-coupled device (EMCCD) cameras. We base our approach on a closed-form analytic expression for the characteristic function (Fourier-transform of the probability mass function) for the image counts recorded in an EMCCD camera, which takes into account both stochasticity in the arrival of photons at the imaging camera and subsequent noise induced by the detection system of the camera. The only assumption in our method is that the background photon arrival to the imaging system is described by a stationary Poisson process (we make no assumption about the photon statistics for the signal). We estimate the background photon statistics parameter, λbg, from an image which contains both background and signal pixels by use of a novel truncated fit procedure with an automatically determined image count threshold. Prior to this, the camera noise model parameters are estimated using a calibration step. Utilizing the estimates for the camera parameters and λbg, we then introduce a probabilistic thresholding method, where, for the first time, the fraction of misclassified pixels can be determined a priori for a general image in an unsupervised way. We use synthetic images to validate our a priori estimates and to benchmark against the Otsu method, which is a popular unsupervised non-probabilistic image thresholding method (no a priori estimates for the error rates are provided). For completeness, we lastly present a simple heuristic general-purpose segmentation method based on the thresholding results, which we apply to segmentation of synthetic images and experimental images of fluorescent beads and lung cell nuclei. Our publicly available software opens up for fully automated, unsupervised, probabilistic photophysical image analysis.


Jens Krog

Lunds universitet

Albertas Dvirnas

Lunds universitet

Oskar E. Ström

Lunds universitet

J. P. Beech

Lunds universitet

J. O. Tegenfeldt

Lunds universitet

Vilhelm Müller

Chalmers, Life sciences, Kemisk biologi

Fredrik Westerlund

Chalmers, Life sciences, Kemisk biologi

Tobias Ambjörnsson

Lunds universitet


1932-6203 (ISSN) 19326203 (eISSN)

Vol. 19 4 April e0300122

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