Abstract

Optical tomographic reconstruction of a three-dimensional (3D) nanoscale specimen is hindered by the axial diffraction limit, which is 2–3 times worse than the focal plane resolution. We propose and experimentally demonstrate an axial super-resolution evanescent wave tomography method that enables the use of regular evanescent wave microscopes like the total internal reflection fluorescence microscope beyond surface imaging and achieve a tomographic reconstruction with axial super-resolution. Our proposed method based on Fourier reconstruction achieves axial super-resolution by extracting information from multiple sets of 3D fluorescence images when the sample is illuminated by an evanescent wave. We propose a procedure to extract super-resolution features from the incremental penetration of an evanescent wave and support our theory by one-dimensional (along the optical axis) and 3D simulations. We validate our claims by experimentally demonstrating tomographic reconstruction of microtubules in HeLa cells with an axial resolution of 130  nm. Our method does not require any additional optical components or sample preparation. The proposed method can be combined with focal plane super-resolution techniques like stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy and can also be adapted for THz and microwave near-field tomography.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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