Abstract

The theoretical basis for resolution enhancement in standing-wave total internal reflection microscopy (SW-TIRM) is examined. This technique relies on the formation of an excitation field containing super-diffraction-limited spatial-frequency components. Although the fluorescence generated at the object planes contains high-frequency information of the object distribution, this information is lost at the image plane, where the detection optics acts as a low-pass filter. From the perspective of point-spread-function (PSF) engineering, one can show that if this excitation field is translatable experimentally, the high-frequency information can be extracted from a set of images where the excitation fields have different displacement vectors. We have developed algorithms to combine this image set to generate a composite image with an effective PSF that is equal to the product of the excitation field and the Fraunhofer PSF. This approach can easily be extended to incorporate nonlinear excitation modalities into SW-TIRM for further resolution improvement. We theoretically examine high-resolution imaging based on the addition of two-photon, pump–probe, and stimulated-emission depletion methods to SW-TIRM and show that resolution better than 1/20 of the emission wavelength may be achievable.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

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