Generalized method to design phase masks for 3D super-resolution microscopy
Point spread function (PSF) engineering by phase modulation is a novel approach to three-dimensional (3D) super-resolution microscopy, with different point spread functions being proposed for specific applications. It is often not easy to achieve the desired shape of engineered point spread functions because it is challenging to determine the correct phase mask. Additionally, a phase mask can either encode 3D space information or additional time information, but not both simultaneously. A robust algorithm for recovering a phase mask to generate arbitrary point spread functions is needed. In this work, a generalized phase mask design method is introduced by performing an optimization. A stochastic gradient descent algorithm and a Gauss-Newton algorithm are developed and compared for their ability to recover the phase masks for previously reported point spread functions. The new Gauss-Newton algorithm converges to a minimum at much higher speeds. This algorithm is used to design a novel stretching-lobe phase mask to encode temporal and 3D spatial information simultaneously. The stretching-lobe phase mask and other masks are fabricated in-house for proof-of-concept using multi-level light lithography and an optimized commercially sourced stretching-lobe phase mask (PM) is validated experimentally to encode 3D spatial and temporal information. The algorithms’ generalizability is further demonstrated by generating a phase mask that comprises four different letters at different depths.