Adaptive Optics in Microscopy

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This PhD research project is about the application of Adaptive Optics to biological microscopy. Adaptive Optics is a technology which was originally developed for optical astronomy to correct for aberrations caused by the turbulent atmosphere. To directly measure aberrations, the wavefront distortion of light emitted by a known reference source is commonly determined. In astronomy artificial “laser guide stars” are produced by high power lasers exciting a layer of sodium in the upper atmosphere. A deformable mirror can then be used to impose the equal but opposite aberrations on the incoming light beam for correction.

In optical microscopy, imaging through thick and complex samples gives rise to optical aberrations. Aberrations distort wavefronts thereby reducing contrast and deteriorating image quality. Unfortunately guide stars do often not exist in biological samples. Artificial fluorescent beads can be inserted but this often not desired. So called sensor-less methods, which don’t need guide stars, were developed. However these sensor-less methods are often time consuming and may give rise to photobleaching.

It is the aim to avoid photobleaching. We therefore study and compare several approaches for aberration correction in different microscope types for a variety of samples.