The sensitivity of a microscope-based holographic system designed for mapping the motion of components of a living cell is calibrated by means of a simple procedure. Bubbles of air are allowed to drift with known velocity in a nearly horizontal, glycerine-filled capillary observed through the microscope. The ultrafine motion of the bubbles is captured interferometrically by subtractive superposition of a pair of holograms recorded a few milliseconds apart. Stationary portions of the field of view are rendered dimly in images reconstructed from the interferogram, while the brightness of moving portions varies monotonically with their displacement. Displacements as small as 1.1 nm were betrayed in the images. Analysis of the experimental conditions suggests that bubble displacements as small as 0.7 nm will become detectable once minor improvements are made in the apparatus.
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