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The combination of two-photon excitation 4Pi-confocal fluorescence microscopy with image restoration leads to a fundamental improvement of three-dimensional resolution in the imaging of transparent, fluorescent specimens. The improvement is exemplified by randomly dispersed fluorescent beads and with actin filaments in a mouse fibroblast cell. For an illumination wavelength of 810 nm, we obtained lateral and axial full-width at half-maxima of point-like objects of 120–140 nm, and 70–100 nm, respectively. Fluorescent beads that are 150 nm apart are imaged with an intensity dip of ∼25%. This amounts to a ∼sixfold improvement of the axial resolution over standard two-photon confocal microscopy. In the cell, the 3D-images reveal details otherwise not resolvable with focused light. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.
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