The presence of aberrations is a major concern when using fluorescence microscopy to image deep inside tissue. Aberrations due to refractive index mismatch and heterogeneity of the specimen under investigation cause severe reduction in the amount of fluorescence emission that is collected by the microscope. Furthermore, aberrations adversely affect the resolution, leading to loss of fine detail in the acquired images. These phenomena are particularly troublesome for super-resolution microscopy techniques such as isotropic stimulated-emission-depletion microscopy (isoSTED), which relies on accurate control of the shape and co-alignment of multiple excitation and depletion foci to operate as expected and to achieve the super-resolution effect.
Aberrations can be suppressed by implementing sensorless adaptive optics techniques, whereby aberration correction is achieved by maximising a certain image quality metric. In confocal microscopy for example, one can employ the total image brightness as an image quality metric. Aberration correction is subsequently achieved by iteratively changing the settings of a wavefront corrector device until the metric is maximised. This simplistic approach has limited applicability to isoSTED microscopy where, due to the complex interplay between the excitation and depletion foci, maximising the total image brightness can lead to introducing aberrations in the depletion foci. In this work we first consider the effects that different aberration modes have on isoSTED microscopes. We then propose an iterative, wavelet-based aberration correction algorithm and evaluate its benefits.
The development of fluorescence microscopy, which allows live-cell imaging with high labeling specificity, has made the visualization of cellular architecture routine. However, for centuries, the spatial resolution of optical microscopy was fundamentally limited by diffraction. The past two decades have seen a revolution in far-field optical nanoscopy (or “super-resolution” microscopy). The best 3D resolution is achieved by optical nanoscopes like the isoSTED or the iPALM/4Pi-SMS, which utilize two opposing objective lenses in a coherent manner. These system are, however, also more complex and the required interference conditions demand precise aberration control. Our research involves developing novel adaptive optics techniques that enable high spatial and temporal resolution imaging for biological applications. In this talk, we will discuss how adaptive optics can enhance dual-objective lens nanoscopes. We will demonstrate how adaptive optics devices provide unprecedented freedom to manipulate the light field in isoSTED nanoscopy, allow to realize automatic beam alignment, suppress the inherent side-lobes of the point-spread function, and dynamically compensate for sample-induced aberrations. We will present both the theoretical groundwork and the experimental confirmations.
Stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy has been established as an important technique for imaging below the diffraction limit facilitating new discoveries in an array of biological systems. In STED microscopy a “donut-shaped” laser focus is super-imposed onto the diffraction-limited focus of an excitation laser. The dounut-shaped beam suppresses fluorescence in the periphery of the excitation spot, reducing the effective point spread function to a sub-diffraction size. However, the application of multicolor STED microscopy in living cells poses a number of challenges. Here we detail a novel STED system specifically designed for two-color STED applications. Our system employs FPGA-based gated detection and fast beam scanning to reduce pixel dwell time and photobleaching. We demonstrate the instrument’s capability with two-color continuous imaging of intracellular targets below the diffraction limit allowing observation of rare events within live-cells.