Precisely calibrated and spatially informed illumination for conventional fluorescence and improved PALM imaging applications

Angel Mancebo Jr, Luke DeMars, Christopher T. Ertsgaard, Elias M. Puchner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Spatial light modulation using cost efficient digital micromirror devices (DMD) is finding broad applications in fluorescence microscopy due to the reduction of phototoxicity and bleaching and the ability to manipulate proteins in optogenetic experiments. However, precise illumination by DMDs and their application to single-molecule localization microscopy (SMLM) remained a challenge because of non-linear distortions between the DMD and camera coordinate systems caused by optical components in the excitation and emission path. Here we develop a fast and easy to implement calibration procedure that determines these distortions and matches the DMD and camera coordinate system with a precision below the optical diffraction limit. As a result, a region from a fluorescence image can be selected with a higher precision for illumination compared to a rigid transformation allowed by manual alignment of the DMD. We first demonstrate the application of our precisely calibrated light modulation by performing a proof of concept fluorescence recovery after photobleaching experiment with the endoplasmic reticulum-localized protein IRE1 fused to GFP in budding yeast (S. cerevisiae). Next, we develop a spatially informed photoactivation approach for SMLM in which only regions of the cell that contain photoactivatable fluorescent proteins are selected for photoactivation. The reduced exposure of the cells to 405 nm light increased the possible imaging time by 44% until phototoxic effects cause a dominant fluorescence background and a change in cell morphology. As a result, the mean number of reliable single-molecule localizations was also significantly increased by 28%. Since the localization precision and the ability for single-molecule tracking is not altered compared to traditional photoactivation of the entire field of view, spatially informed photoactivation significantly improves the quality of SMLM images and single-molecule tracking data. Our precise calibration method therefore lays the foundation for improved SMLM with active feedback photoactivation far beyond the applications in this work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number025004
JournalMethods and applications in fluorescence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 19 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • cell biology
  • fluorescence microscopy techniques
  • photoactivated localization microscopy
  • phototoxicity
  • single molecule tracking
  • spatial light modulation
  • Fluorescence
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence/methods
  • Calibration/standards
  • Lighting/methods

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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