Three-Dimensional, Single-Molecule Fluorescence Imaging Beyond the Diffraction Limit by using a Double-Helix Point Spread Function
PNAS March 3, 2009 106 (9) 2995-2999; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0900245106
We demonstrate single-molecule fluorescence imaging beyond the optical diffraction limit in 3 dimensions with a wide-field microscope that exhibits a double-helix point spread function (DH-PSF). The DH-PSF design features high and uniform Fisher information and has 2 dominant lobes in the image plane whose angular orientation rotates with the axial (z) position of the emitter. Single fluorescent molecules in a thick polymer sample are localized in single 500-ms acquisitions with 10- to 20-nm precision over a large depth of field (2 μm) by finding the center of the 2 DH-PSF lobes. By using a photoactivatable fluorophore, repeated imaging of sparse subsets with a DH-PSF microscope provides superresolution imaging of high concentrations of molecules in all 3 dimensions. The combination of optical PSF design and digital postprocessing with photoactivatable fluorophores opens up avenues for improving 3D imaging resolution beyond the Rayleigh diffraction limit.