Numerically Enhanced Stimulated Emission Depletion Microscopy with Adaptive Optics for Deep-Tissue Super-Resolved Imaging

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Journal Article
ACS Nano, 2020, 14 (1), pp. 394 - 405
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Copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society. In stimulated emission depletion (STED) nanoscopy, the major origin of decreased signal-to-noise ratio within images can be attributed to sample photobleaching and strong optical aberrations. This is due to STED utilizing a high-power depletion laser (increasing the risk of photodamage), while the depletion beam is very sensitive to sample-induced aberrations. Here, we demonstrate a custom-built STED microscope with automated aberration correction that is capable of 3D super-resolution imaging through thick, highly aberrating tissue. We introduce and investigate a state of the art image denoising method by block-matching and collaborative 3D filtering (BM3D) to numerically enhance fine object details otherwise mixed with noise and further enhance the image quality. Numerical denoising provides an increase in the final effective resolution of the STED imaging of 31% using the well established Fourier ring correlation metric. Results achieved through the combination of aberration correction and tailored image processing are experimentally validated through super-resolved 3D imaging of axons in differentiated induced pluripotent stem cells growing under an 80 μm thick layer of tissue with lateral and axial resolution of 204 and 310 nm, respectively.
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