A promising new wavelength region for three-photon fluorescence microscopy of live cells.
We report three-photon laser scanning microscopy (3PLSM) using a bi-directional pumped optical parametric oscillator (OPO) with signal wavelength output at λ= 1500 nm. This novel laser was used to overcome the high optical loss in the infrared spectral region observed in laser scanning microscopes and objective lenses that renders them otherwise difficult to use for imaging. To test our system, we performed 3PLSM auto-fluorescence imaging of live plant cells at λ= 1500 nm, specifically Spirogyra, and compared performance with two-photon excitation (2PLSM) imaging using a femtosecond pulsed Ti:Sapphire laser at λ= 780 nm. Analysis of cell viability based on cytoplasmic organelle streaming and structural changes of cells revealed that at similar peak powers, 2PLSM caused gross cell damage after 5 min but 3PLSM showed little or no interference with cell function after 15 min. The λ= 1500 nm OPO is thus shown to be a practical laser source for live cell imaging. © 2012 The Authors Journal of Microscopy © 2012 Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health.