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Like all methods of super-resolution microscopy, stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy can suffer from the effects of aberrations. The most important aspect of a STED microscope is that the depletion focus maintains a minimum, ideally zero, intensity point that is surrounded by a region of higher intensity. It follows that aberrations that cause a non-zero value of this minimum intensity are the most detrimental, as they inhibit fluorescence emission even at the centre of the depletion focus. We present analysis that elucidates the nature of these effects in terms of the different polarisation components at the focus for two-dimensional and three-dimensional STED resolution enhancement. It is found that only certain low-order aberration modes can affect the minimum intensity at the Gaussian focus. This has important consequences for the design of adaptive optics aberration correction systems.

Original publication




Journal article


Opt Commun

Publication Date





203 - 209


00-01, 99-00, Aberration correction, Adaptive optics, High numerical aperture optics, Stimulated emission depletion microscopy, Super-resolution microscopy