Stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy is a powerful super-resolution microscopy technique that enables observation of macromolecular complexes and sub-cellular structures with spatial resolution well below the diffraction limit. However, resolution in the double-digit nanometer range can be obtained only using high intensity depletion laser, at the cost of increased photo-damage, which significantly limits STED applications in live specimens. To minimize this, we use the separation by lifetime tuning (SPLIT) technique, in which phasor analysis is used to efficiently distinguish photons emitted from the center and from the periphery of the excitation spot of a STED microscope. Thus, it can be used to improve the resolution without increasing the STED beam intensity. Our approach utilizes a combination of pulsed excitation and pulsed depletion lasers to record the time-resolved photons by FastFLIM. The photons stream are successively analyzed using the SPLIT technique, demonstrating that the resolution improves without increasing the depletion laser intensity.
If a scanning illumination spot is combined with a detector array, we acquire a 4 dimensional signal. Unlike confocal microscopy with a small pinhole, we detect all the light from the object, which is particularly important for fluorescence microscopy, when the signal is weak. The image signal is basically a cross-correlation, and is highly redundant. It has more than sufficient information to reconstruct an improved resolution image. A 2D image can be generated from the measured signal by pixel reassignment. The result is improved resolution and signal strength, the system being called image scanning microscopy. A variety of different signal processing techniques can be used to predict the reassignment and deconvolve the partial images. We use an innovative single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) array detector of 25 detectors (arranged into a 5× 5 matrix). We can simultaneously acquire 25 partial images and process to calculate the final reconstruction online.
Stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy is a powerful bio-imaging technique since it provides molecular spatial resolution whilst preserving the most important assets of fluorescence microscopy. When combined with twophoton excitation (2PE) microscopy (2PE-STED), the sub-diffraction imaging ability of STED microscopy can be achieved also on thick biological samples. The most straightforward implementation of 2PE-STED microscopy is obtained by introducing a STED beam operating in continuous wave (CW) into a conventional Ti:Sapphire based 2PE microscope (2PE-CW-STED). In this implementation, an effective resolution enhancement is mainly obtained implementing a time-gated detection scheme, which however can drastically reduce the signal-to-noise/background ratio of the final image. Herein, we combine the lifetime tuning (SPLIT) approach with 2PE-CW-STED to overcome this limitation. The SPLIT approach is employed to discard fluorescence photons lacking super-resolution information, by means of a pixel-by-pixel phasor approach. Combining the SPLIT approach with image deconvolution further optimizes the signal-to-noise/background ratio.
Stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy is a powerful super-resolution microscopy technique that enables observation of macromolecular complexes and sub-cellular structures with spatial resolution below the diffraction limit. The spatial resolution of STED is limited by power of the depletion laser at the specimen plane. Higher depletion laser power will improve resolution, but at the cost of increased photo-bleaching, photo-toxicity, and anti-stoke emission background. This degrades the signal-to-noise ratio, and can significantly limit STED applications in living specimens. Here, we present an efficient multi-color STED microscopy method based on the digital frequency domain fluorescence lifetime imaging (FastFLIM) and the phasor plots. Our approach utilizes a combination of pulsed excitation and pulsed depletion lasers to record the time-resolved photons by FastFLIM. We demonstrate that the resolution is improved without increasing the depletion laser power by digital separation of the depleted species from the partially depleted species based on their different decay kinetics. We show the utility of this novel STED method applied in both fixed and live cellular samples, and also show its application to fluorescence lifetime correlation spectroscopy (FLCS) measurements. By combining fluorophores with different fluorescence lifetimes, we simultaneously record two-color STED images of cells labeled with Atto655 and Alexa647 in a single scan by using a single pair of excitation and depletion lasers. This novel approach shortens the data acquisition time while minimizing the photo-toxicity caused when using two separate depletion lasers.
There are basically two types of microscope, which we call conventional and scanning. The former type is a full-field imaging system. In the latter type, the object is illuminated with a probe beam, and a signal detected. We can generalize the probe to a patterned illumination. Similarly we can generalize the detection to a patterned detection. Combining these we get a range of different modalities: confocal microscopy, structured illumination (with full-field imaging), spinning disk (with multiple illumination points), and so on. The combination allows the spatial frequency bandwidth of the system to be doubled. In general we can record a four dimensional (4D) image of a 2D object (or a 6D image from a 3D object, using an acoustic tuneable lens). The optimum way to directly reconstruct the resulting image is by image scanning microscopy (ISM). But the 4D image is highly redundant, so deconvolution-based approaches are also relevant. <p> </p>ISM can be performed in fluorescence, bright field or interference microscopy. Several different implementations have been described, with associated advantages and disadvantages. In two-photon microscopy, the illumination and detection point spread functions are very different. This is also the case when using pupil filters or when there is a large Stokes shift.
In a stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscope the region from which a fluorophore can spontaneously emit shrinks with the continued STED beam action after the excitation event. This fact has been recently used to implement a versatile, simple and cheap STED microscope that uses a pulsed excitation beam, a STED beam running in continuous-wave (CW) and a time-gated detection: By collecting only the delayed (with respect to the excitation events) fluorescence, the STED beam intensity needed for obtaining a certain spatial resolution strongly reduces, which is fundamental to increase live cell imaging compatibility. This new STED microscopy implementation, namely gated CW-STED, is in essence limited (only) by the reduction of the signal associated with the time-gated detection. Here we show the recent advances in gated CW-STED microscopy and related methods. We show that the time-gated detection can be substituted by more efficient computational methods when the arrival-times of all fluorescence photons are provided.
One of the key frontiers in optical imaging is to maximize the spatial information retrieved from a sample while minimizing acquisition time. Confocal laser scanning microscopy is a powerful imaging modality that allows real-time and high-resolution acquisition of two-dimensional (2D) sections. However, in order to obtain information from threedimensional (3D) volumes it is currently limited by a stepwise process that consists of acquiring multiple 2D sections from different focal planes by slow z-focus translation. Here, we present a novel method that enables the capture of an entire 3D sample in a single step. Our approach is based on an acoustically-driven varifocal lens integrated in a commercial confocal system that enables axial focus scanning at speeds of 140 kHz or above. Such high-speed allows for one or multiple focus sweeps on a pixel by pixel basis. By using a fast acquisition card, we can assign the photons detected at each pixel to their corresponding focal plane allowing simultaneous multiplane imaging. We exemplify this novel 3D confocal microscopy technique by imaging different biological fluorescent samples and comparing them with those obtained using traditional z-scanners. Based on these results, we find that image quality in this novel approach is similar to that obtained with traditional confocal methods, while speed is only limited by signal-to-noise-ratio. As the sensitivity of photodetectors increases and more efficient fluorescent labeling is developed, this novel 3D method can result in significant reduction in acquisition time allowing the study of new fundamental processes in science.
Proc. SPIE. 6861, Three-Dimensional and Multidimensional Microscopy: Image Acquisition and Processing XV
KEYWORDS: Signal to noise ratio, Confocal microscopy, Optical transfer functions, Point spread functions, Optical filters, Microscopy, Image resolution, Image filtering, Optical resolution, Phase only filters
The aim of this work is to propose and analyze optical schemes to obtain an improvement of resolution in optical
fluorescence microscopy. This goal can be achieved by implementing interfering illumination beams. We start from the insertion, on the illumination arm of the confocal microscope, of appropriately phase plates inducing laterally interfering beams, and then we propose to exploit two-photon excitation, too. We plan to implement solutions for shaping also the axial component of the point spread function by use of phase-only pupil filters and binary filters. In order to implement such schemes we use a computational simulation mainly based on a vectorial approach coupled to experimental procedures utilizing ultra-thin fluorescent layers and thick gels containing immobile fluorescent molecules as 2D and 3D phantoms, respectively. As well, image processing and successive views can be recombined to get a final isotropic improvement of resolution.
Confocal laser scanning (CLS) and two-photon excitation (TPE) microscopy are powerful techniques for 3D
imaging of biological samples. Although CLS and TPE microscopy images are better than standard epifluorescence
images, they still undergo degradation due to blurring and random noise because of the inherent nature
of the physical phenomenon (diffraction and photon counting noise) involved. The aim is to obtain the real
object from the degraded noisy image. This problem belongs to inverse problems and is found to be very notorious
in nature. Several algorithms such as maximum likelihood (ML) based algorithm, have been proposed to reduce these artifacts. Unfortunately, ML based algorithm tends to generate noise artifacts, so regularization constraints based on some prior knowledge have to be integrated to stabilize the solution. This is termed as maximum
a-posteriori (MAP) technique. We propose a MAP approach in which the image field is suitably modeled
as Markov random field (MRF), forcing the image distribution to be Gibbs distribution. The prior knowledge
is incorporated through the potential function in the Gibbs distribution. We proposed potential functions based
on white-noise prior, smoothest prior and fuzzy logic. MAP approach has the advantage of include the available
prior knowledge in the restoration procedure. In other words, inclusion of prior knowledge makes the notorious
inverse problem well-posed. Various evaluations such as visual inspection and Csiszar I-divergence are performed
on the CLS microscopy restored images to study the characteristics of the proposed approach (in both simulated
and real data). It is observed that the noise artifacts are considerably reduced and the desired images characteristics
(edges and minute features as islets) are retained in the restored images. The algorithm is extended in
the third dimension for 3D-image restoration application. The proposed algorithm is found to perform better
than existing image restoration algorithm in microscopy. The algorithm is stable, robust and tolerant at various
noise (Poisson) intensities. The convergence of the proposed algorithm is empirically observed. We hope that
the proposed algorithm will find wide applications in microscopy and biomedical imaging.
Layer-by-Layer or self-assembly techniques can be used to prepare Fluorescent polymer samples on glass coverslips
serving as benchmark for two-photon excitation microscopy from conventional to 4Pi set-up, or more in general
for sectioning microscopy. Layers can be realized as ultra-thin (<< 100 nm) or thin (approx. 100 nm)
characteristics coupled to different fluorescent molecules to be used for different microscopy applications. As well, stacks hosting different fluorescent molecules can be also produce. Thanks to their controllable thickness, uniformity and fluorescence properties, these polymer layers may serve as a simple and applicable standard to
directly measure the z-response of different scanning optical microscopes. In two-photon excitation microscopy z-sectioning plays a central role and uniformity of illumination is crucial due to the non-linear behaviour of emission. Since the main characteristics of a particular image formation situation can be efficiently summarized
in a Sectioned Imaging property chart (SIPchart), we think that coupling this calibration sample with SIPchart is a very important step towards quantitative microscopy. In this work we use these polymer layers to measure the z-response of confocal, two-photon excitation and 4Pi laser scanning microscopes, selecting properly ultra-thin and thin layers. Due to their uniformity over a wide region, i.e. coverslip surface, it is possible to quantify the z-response of the system over a full field of view area. These samples are also useful for monitoring photobleaching
behavior as function of the illumination intensity. Ultrathin layers are also useful to supersede the conventional
technique of calculating the derivative of the axial edges of a thick fluorescent layer. Polymer layers can be
effciently used for real time alignment of the microscope.
We report about a photoactivatable derivative of the Aequorea Victoria green fluorescent protein (paGFP). This special form of the molecule increases its fluorescence intensity when excited by 488 nm after irradiation with high intensity light at 413 nm<sup>1</sup>. The aim in this work was to evaluate the use of two-photon interactions for activation of the molecules<sup>2</sup>. Therefore experiments were performed using fixed and living cells which were expressing the paGFP fluorophore and microspheres whose surface was modified by specific adsorption of the chromophores. The latter objects were used to investigate the ability of different wavelengths to activate the paGFP due to the anticipated more homogeneous density distribution. The molecular switches were activated in a range of wavelength from 720 nm to 840 nm. The optimal wavelength for activation was then chosen for cell imaging. A comparison between the conventional activation with a single photon at 413 nm and two-photons demonstrates clearly the advantages using non linear processes: much smaller volume in the cell can be activated unlike to a whole cell activation in single photon excitation regime.