Our current research has two directions:
Imaging resolution in vivo is limited by the refractive index mismatch between biological samples and the media for which a microscope objective is designed. It is not possible to achieve diffraction-limited resolution without correcting for these sample-induced aberrations. We develop scattering-resistant adaptive optical methods to cancel out these aberrations and achieve high-resolution imaging in vivo.
Ideal imaging occurs when we have a diffraction-limited focus, where all light rays intersect and interfere constructively. In one approach, we first direct rays to intersect at the same point by measuring image shifts when the corresponding segments of back pupil are illuminated, and then find the phase for those rays by either interference or phase reconstruction.
In an alternative approach, to avoid the numerical aperture (NA) reduction associated with single-segment illumination, we illuminate the full pupil and recover a perfect focus by scanning one ray around the focus formed by all other rays while monitoring the focal intensity variation.
Speeding up the full-pupil method by multiplexing, we can rapidly measure aberration in scattering tissues and achieve corrections applicable over hundreds of microns inside the mouse brain.
To image deep nuclei in vivo, microendoscopy offers a minimally invasive approach, with the most popular implementations employing gradient refractive-index (GRIN) lenses. Unlike conventional objective lenses where many optical elements are used to minimize off-axis aberration, high-NA GRIN lenses are plagued with intrinsic aberrations. By correcting these aberrations, we can increase their imaging performance in 3D.
To understand a neural circuit, we need to know the information it receives, the transformation it applies to its inputs, and the information it outputs to the rest of the brain. We use a data-rich approach to elucidate circuit computations by systematically characterizing the representational properties of large numbers of boutons and neurons in the input and output layers of a neural circuit. Currently, we focus our efforts on the mouse primary visual cortex, where the tuning properties of inputs and outputs at depth can be characterized accurately only after the optical aberrations are corrected.
We describe an adaptive optics method that modulates the intensity or phase of light rays at multiple pupil segments in parallel to determine the sample-induced aberration. Applicable to fluorescent protein-labeled structures of arbitrary complexity, it allowed us to obtain diffraction-limited resolution in various samples in vivo. For the strongly scattering mouse brain, a single aberration correction improved structural and functional imaging of fine neuronal processes over a large imaging volume.
In traditional zonal wavefront sensing for adaptive optics, after local wavefront gradients are obtained, the entire wavefront can be calculated by assuming that the wavefront is a continuous surface. Such an approach will lead to sub-optimal performance in reconstructing wavefronts which are either discontinuous or undersampled by the zonal wavefront sensor. Here, we report a new method to reconstruct the wavefront by directly measuring local wavefront phases in parallel using multidither coherent optical adaptive technique. This method determines the relative phases of each pupil segment independently, and thus produces an accurate wavefront for even discontinuous wavefronts. We implemented this method in an adaptive optical two-photon fluorescence microscopy and demonstrated its superior performance in correcting large or discontinuous aberrations.
Advances in chemistry and physics have profound effects on neuroimaging. Current and future progress in these disciplines will continue to aid in efforts to visualize neural circuitry, particularly in deeper layers of the brain.
Inherent aberrations of gradient index (GRIN) lenses used in fluorescence endomicroscopes deteriorate imaging performance. Using adaptive optics, we characterized and corrected the on-axis and off-axis aberrations of a GRIN lens with NA 0.8 at multiple focal planes. We demonstrated a rotational-transformation-based correction procedure, which enlarged the imaging area with diffraction-limited resolution with only two aberration measurements. 204.8 × 204.8 µm2 images of fluorescent beads and brain slices before and after AO corrections were obtained, with evident improvements in both image sharpness and brightness after AO correction. These results show great promises of applying adaptive optical two-photon fluorescence endomicroscope to three-dimensional (3D) imaging.
Characterization and adaptive optical correction of aberrations during in vivo imaging in the mouse cortex.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2012
N. Ji, T. R. Sato, and E. Betzig Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109:22-7 (2012)
The signal and resolution during in vivo imaging of the mouse brain is limited by sample-induced optical aberrations. We find that, although the optical aberrations can vary across the sample and increase in magnitude with depth, they remain stable for hours. As a result, two-photon adaptive optics can recover diffraction-limited performance to depths of 450 μm and improve imaging quality over fields of view of hundreds of microns. Adaptive optical correction yielded fivefold signal enhancement for small neuronal structures and a threefold increase in axial resolution. The corrections allowed us to detect smaller neuronal structures at greater contrast and also improve the signal-to-noise ratio during functional Ca(2+) imaging in single neurons.
Optical aberrations deteriorate the performance of microscopes. Adaptive optics can be used to improve imaging performance via wavefront shaping. Here, we demonstrate a pupil-segmentation based adaptive optical approach with full-pupil illumination. When implemented in a two-photon fluorescence microscope, it recovers diffraction-limited performance and improves imaging signal and resolution.
Biological specimens are rife with optical inhomogeneities that seriously degrade imaging performance under all but the most ideal conditions. Measuring and then correcting for these inhomogeneities is the province of adaptive optics. Here we introduce an approach to adaptive optics in microscopy wherein the rear pupil of an objective lens is segmented into subregions, and light is directed individually to each subregion to measure, by image shift, the deflection faced by each group of rays as they emerge from the objective and travel through the specimen toward the focus. Applying our method to two-photon microscopy, we could recover near-diffraction-limited performance from a variety of biological and nonbiological samples exhibiting aberrations large or small and smoothly varying or abruptly changing. In particular, results from fixed mouse cortical slices illustrate our ability to improve signal and resolution to depths of 400 microm.
Pulsed lasers are key elements in nonlinear bioimaging techniques such as two-photon fluorescence excitation (TPE) microscopy. Typically, however, only a percent or less of the laser power available can be delivered to the sample before photoinduced damage becomes excessive. Here we describe a passive pulse splitter that converts each laser pulse into a fixed number of sub-pulses of equal energy. We applied the splitter to TPE imaging of fixed mouse brain slices labeled with GFP and show that, in different power regimes, the splitter can be used either to increase the signal rate more than 100-fold or to reduce the rate of photobleaching by over fourfold. In living specimens, the gains were even greater: a ninefold reduction in photobleaching during in vivo imaging of Caenorhabditis elegans larvae, and a six- to 20-fold decrease in the rate of photodamage during calcium imaging of rat hippocampal brain slices.
Neurobiological processes occur on spatiotemporal scales spanning many orders of magnitude. Greater understanding of these processes therefore demands improvements in the tools used in their study. Here we review recent efforts to enhance the speed and resolution of one such tool, fluorescence microscopy, with an eye toward its application to neurobiological problems. On the speed front, improvements in beam scanning technology, signal generation rates, and photodamage mediation are bringing us closer to the goal of real-time functional imaging of extended neural networks. With regard to resolution, emerging methods of adaptive optics may lead to diffraction-limited imaging or much deeper imaging in optically inhomogeneous tissues, and super-resolution techniques may prove a powerful adjunct to electron microscopic methods for nanometric neural circuit reconstruction.
Prior Publications (14)
Phase-sensitive sum-frequency vibrational spectroscopy was used to study water/vapor interfaces of HCl, HI, and NaOH solutions. The measured imaginary part of the surface spectral responses provided direct characterization of OH stretch vibrations and information about net polar orientations of water species contributing to different regions of the spectrum. We found clear evidence that hydronium ions prefer to emerge at interfaces. Their OH stretches contribute to the "ice-like" band in the spectrum. Their charges create a positive surface field that tends to reorient water molecules more loosely bonded to the topmost water layer with oxygen toward the interface, and thus enhances significantly the "liquid-like" band in the spectrum. Iodine ions in solution also like to appear at the interface and alter the positive surface field by forming a narrow double-charge layer with hydronium ions. In NaOH solution, the observed weak change of the "liquid-like" band and disappearance of the "ice-like" band in the spectrum indicates that OH(-) ions must also have excess at the interface. How they are incorporated in the interfacial water structure is, however, not clear.
Phase-sensitive sum-frequency spectroscopy provides correct characterization of vibrational resonances of water-vapor interfaces and allows better identification of interfacial water species contributing to different parts of the spectra. Iodine ions emerging at an interface create a surface field that tends to reorient the more loosely bonded water molecules below the topmost layer.
A sum-frequency generation (SFG) microscope that is sensitive toward molecular chirality was demonstrated for the first time. Optically active images of chiral 1,1'-bi-2-naphthol solutions were obtained with submicron spatial resolution. Three-dimensional sectioning capability of our microscope was also demonstrated. This optically active SFG microscopy can potentially become a powerful imaging technique for biological samples.
Chiral sum-frequency (SF) spectroscopy that measures both the real and the imaginary components of the SF spectral response was demonstrated for the first time. It was based on interference of the SF signal with a dispersionless SF reference. Solutions of 1,1'-bi-2-naphthol (BN) were used as model systems, and their chiral SF spectra over the first exciton-split transitions were obtained. Chiral spectra are useful for determination of absolute configuration and conformation of chiral molecules.
Two Ozma problems are defined. Parity nonconservation is necessary for their solutions. Both problems may be solved by beta decay or atomic optical activity. Atomic and molecular sum frequency generation is chosen, as it supplies rich methods of effecting "gedanken" solutions to the Ozma problems. A new method of measuring a parameter manifesting molecular parity violations is advanced.
Recent advances in developing sum frequency generation (SFG) as a novel spectroscopic probe for molecular chirality are reviewed. The basic principle underlying the technique is briefly described, in comparison with circular dichroism (CD). The significantly better sensitivity of the technique than CD is pointed out, and the reason is discussed. Bi-naphthol (BN) and amino acids are used as representatives for two different types of chiral molecules; the measured chirality in their electronic transitions can be understood by two different molecular models, respectively, that are extensions of models developed earlier for CD. Optically active or chiral SFG from vibrational transitions are weaker, but with the help of electronic-vibrational double resonance, the vibrational spectrum of a monolayer of BN has been obtained. Generally, optically active SFG is sufficiently sensitive to be employed to probe in-situ chirality of chiral monolayers and thin films.
A theoretical formulation for optically active sum frequency generation (OA-SFG) from isotropic chiral solutions was proposed for molecules with a chiral side chain and an intrinsically achiral chromophore. Adapting an electron correlation model first proposed by Höhn and Weigang for linear optical activity, we presented a dynamic coupling model for OA-SFG near the electronic resonance of the achiral chromophore. As a demonstration, we used this model to explain the observed OA-SFG spectra of a series of amino acids near the electronic resonance of the intrinsically achiral carboxyl group. Our model shows that the nonlinear chiroptical response comes about by the through-space correlative electronic interactions between the chiral side chain and the achiral chromophore, and its magnitude is determined by the position and orientation of the bonds that make up the chiral side chain. Using the bond polarizability values in the literature and the conformations of amino acids obtained from calculation, we were able to reproduce the relative OA-SFG strength from a series of amino acids.
Sum frequency vibrational spectroscopy was used to study adsorption of leucine molecules at air-water interface from solutions with different concentrations and pH values. The surface density and the orientation of the isopropyl head group of the adsorbed leucine molecules could be deduced from the measurements. It was found that the orientation depends on the surface density, but only weakly on bulk pH value at the saturated surface density. The vibrational spectra of the interfacial water molecules appeared to be strongly affected by the charge state of the adsorbed leucine molecules. Enhancement and inversion of polar orientation of interfacial water molecules by surface charges or field controllable by the bulk pH value were observed.
With amino acids as model systems, optically active sum frequency generation (OA-SFG) was used to probe the chirality of molecules with a chiral center and an intrinsically achiral chromophore in isotropic solution for the first time. Like that of circular dichroism (CD), the OA-SFG's near electronic resonance originates from the extrachromophoric chiral perturbation on the carboxyl chromophore. The difference in the relative strengths of OA-SFG and CD among different amino acids can be explained by the difference in the details of perturbations.
Sum-frequency vibrational spectroscopy was used to obtain the first surface vibrational spectra of shear-deposited highly oriented poly(tetrafluoroethylene) (PTFE, Teflon) thin films. The surface PTFE chains appeared to lie along the shearing direction. Vibrational modes observed at 1142 and 1204 cm-1 were found to have the E1 symmetry, in support of some earlier analysis in the long-lasting controversy over the assignment of these modes.