Microscope calibration protocol for single-molecule microscopy

Opt Express. 2021 Jan 4;29(1):182-207. doi: 10.1364/OE.408361.


Single-molecule microscopy allows for the investigation of the dynamics of individual molecules and the visualization of subcellular structures at high spatial resolution. For single-molecule imaging experiments, and particularly those that entail the acquisition of multicolor data, calibration of the microscope and its optical components therefore needs to be carried out at a high level of accuracy. We propose here a method for calibrating a microscope at the nanometer scale, in the sense of determining optical aberrations as revealed by point source localization errors on the order of nanometers. The method is based on the imaging of a standard sample to detect and evaluate the amount of geometric aberration introduced in the optical light path. To provide support for multicolor imaging, it also includes procedures for evaluating the geometric aberration caused by a dichroic filter and the axial chromatic aberration introduced by an objective lens.