Coherent beam control through inhomogeneous media in multi-photon microscopy
Paudel, Hari Prasad
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Multi-photon fluorescence microscopy has become a primary tool for high-resolution deep tissue imaging because of its sensitivity to ballistic excitation photons in comparison to scattered excitation photons. The imaging depth of multi-photon microscopes in tissue imaging is limited primarily by background fluorescence that is generated by scattered light due to the random fluctuations in refractive index inside the media, and by reduced intensity in the ballistic focal volume due to aberrations within the tissue and at its interface. We built two multi-photon adaptive optics (AO) correction systems, one for combating scattering and aberration problems, and another for compensating interface aberrations. For scattering correction a MEMS segmented deformable mirror (SDM) was inserted at a plane conjugate to the objective back-pupil plane. The SDM can pre-compensate for light scattering by coherent combination of the scattered light to make an apparent focus even at a depths where negligible ballistic light remains (i.e. ballistic limit). This problem was approached by investigating the spatial and temporal focusing characteristics of a broad-band light source through strongly scattering media. A new model was developed for coherent focus enhancement through or inside the strongly media based on the initial speckle contrast. A layer of fluorescent beads under a mouse skull was imaged using an iterative coherent beam control method in the prototype two-photon microscope to demonstrate the technique. We also adapted an AO correction system to an existing in three-photon microscope in a collaborator lab at Cornell University. In the second AO correction approach a continuous deformable mirror (CDM) is placed at a plane conjugate to the plane of an interface aberration. We demonstrated that this “Conjugate AO” technique yields a large field-of-view (FOV) advantage in comparison to Pupil AO. Further, we showed that the extended FOV in conjugate AO is maintained over a relatively large axial misalignment of the conjugate planes of the CDM and the aberrating interface. This dissertation advances the field of microscopy by providing new models and techniques for imaging deeply within strongly scattering tissue, and by describing new adaptive optics approaches to extending imaging FOV due to sample aberrations.