Digital In-Line Holography for Large-Volume Analysis of Vertical Motion of Microscale Marine Plankton and Other Particles

Zonghua Liu, Tomoko Takahashi, Dhugal Lindsay, Thangavel Thevar, Mehul Sangekar, Hiromi Kayama Watanabe, Nicholas Burns, John Watson, Blair Thornton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Measuring the distribution, characteristics and dynamics of marine microscale plankton and other particulate matter is essential to understand the vertical flux of elements in the marine environment. Digital holographic microscopy is a powerful approach for measuring these and studying their 3-D trajectories in a relatively large observation volume. This article demonstrates a compact, in-line digital holographic microscope that allows large-volume and high-resolution recording of marine particles through combining a continuous wave laser and a short exposure CMOS camera with efficient global shutters. A resolution of better than 10 μm is demonstrated in air and the minimum distinguishable size of targets recorded in water is approximately 20 μm. The maximum volumetric throughput of the setup is 1904 mL/s. The microscope can take motion blur free holograms of particles moving at up to 490 mm/s in theory, and has been tested in the ∼200-mm/s flowing water. The orientation of the measured volume improves the ability of digital holography in profiling sinking rates and active vertical migration. The system was tested onboard a research vessel to record a range of live plankton and other particles. The motion of some samples, including the sinking motion and swimming motion, was analyzed using custom developed image processing software. The experimental results show that the combination of high resolution and a large volume over which motion of sparse-distribution particles can be tracked, can improve the ability to differentiate between different types of marine particle and identify behaviors of live plankton.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1248 - 1260
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number4
Early online date22 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Atmospheric measurements
  • Digital in-line holographic microscopy
  • holo graphic image processing
  • Image reconstruction
  • Image resolution
  • large-volume recording
  • marine plank-ton and particle motion tracking
  • Microscopy
  • Particle measurements
  • Sea measurements
  • Throughput
  • vertical profiling of particulates


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