Concept, implementations and applications of Fourier ptychography


The competition between resolution and the imaging field of view is a long-standing problem in traditional imaging systems — they can produce either an image of a small area with fine details or an image of a large area with coarse details. Fourier ptychography (FP) is an approach for tackling this intrinsic trade-off in imaging systems. It takes the challenge of high-throughput and high-resolution imaging from the domain of improving the physical limitations of optics to the domain of computation. It also enables post-measurement computational correction of optical aberrations. We present the basic concept of FP, compare it to related imaging modalities and then discuss experimental implementations, such as aperture-scanning FP, macroscopic camera-scanning FP, reflection mode, single-shot set-up, X-ray FP, speckle-scanning scheme and deep-learning-related implementations. Various applications of FP are discussed, including quantitative phase imaging in 2D and 3D, digital pathology, high-throughput cytometry, aberration metrology, long-range imaging and coherent X-ray nanoscopy. A collection of datasets and reconstruction codes is provided for readers interested in implementing FP themselves.

Key points

  • Fourier ptychography (FP) is a computational method for synthesizing raw data into a high-resolution and wide-field-of-view image through a combination of synthetic aperture and phase retrieval concepts. Unlike conventional techniques, which trade resolution against imaging field of view, FP can achieve both simultaneously.

  • FP can computationally render both the intensity and the phase images of the sample from intensity-based measurements.

  • FP has the intrinsic ability to computationally correct aberrations. As a result, in FP, the task of aberration correction is not a physical system design problem but, rather, a computational problem that can be resolved post-measurement.

  • Defocus is a type of aberration and, thus, FP can computationally refocus images over a much extended range.

  • Since the invention of FP, various innovations on the original method have been reported; this Technical Review discusses some of the most impactful ones, such as aperture-scanning and camera-scanning schemes, extensions for handling 3D specimens and X-ray FP, among others.

  • A collection of FP datasets and reconstruction codes is provided to interested readers.

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Fig. 1: Comparison between Fourier ptychography and real-space ptychography.
Fig. 2: Implementations of Fourier ptychography.
Fig. 3: Quantitative phase imaging in 2D and 3D.
Fig. 4: Digital pathology and high-throughput cytometry via Fourier ptychography.
Fig. 5: Aberration metrology, surface inspection, long-range imaging and X-ray nanoscopy via Fourier ptychography.

Code availability

Example Fourier ptychography codes and datasets are available at


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G.Z. acknowledges the support of NSF 1510077, NSF 2012140 and the UConn SPARK grant. P.S. acknowledges the support of the Thermo Fisher Scientific Fellowship. C.Y. acknowledges the support of the Rosen Bioengineering Center Endowment Fund (9900050).

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G.Z. prepared the display items. S.J. prepared the initial draft of the Supplementary Note. All authors contributed to all aspects of manuscript preparation, revision and editing.

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Correspondence to Guoan Zheng or Changhuei Yang.

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Zheng, G., Shen, C., Jiang, S. et al. Concept, implementations and applications of Fourier ptychography. Nat Rev Phys (2021).

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