Modified inverted selective plane illumination microscopy for sub-micrometer imaging resolution in polydimethylsiloxane soft lithography devices†
Moldable, transparent polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) elastomer microdevices enable a broad range of complex studies of three-dimensional cellular networks in their microenvironment in vitro. However, the uneven distribution of refractive index change, external to PDMS devices and internally in the sample chamber, creates a significant optical path difference (OPD) that distorts the light sheet beam and so restricts diffraction limited performance. We experimentally showed that an OPD of 120 μm results in the broadening of the lateral point spread function by over 4-fold. In this paper, we demonstrate steps to adapt a commercial inverted selective plane illumination microscope (iSPIM) and remove the OPD so as to achieve sub-micrometer imaging ranging from 0.6 ± 0.04 μm to 0.91 ± 0.03 μm of a fluorescence biological sample suspended in regular saline (RI ≈1.34) enclosed in 1.2 to 2 mm thick micromolded PDMS microdevices. We have proven that the removal of the OPD from the external PDMS layer by refractive index (RI) matching with a readily accessible, inexpensive sucrose solution is critical to achieve a >3-fold imaging resolution improvement. To monitor the RI matching process, a single-mode fiber (SMF) illuminator was integrated into the iSPIM. To remove the OPD inside the PDMS channel, we used an electrically tunable lens (ETL) that par-focuses the light sheet beam with the detection objective lens and so minimised axial distortions to attain sub-micrometer imaging resolution. We termed this new light sheet imaging protocol as modified inverted selective plane illumination microscopy (m-iSPIM). Using the high spatial–temporal 3D imaging of m-iSPIM, we experimentally captured single platelet (≈2 μm) recruitment to a platelet aggregate (22.5 μm × 22.5 μm × 6 μm) under flow at a 150 μm depth within a microfluidic channel. m-iSPIM paves the way for the application of light sheet imaging to a wide range of 3D biological models in microfluidic devices which recapitulate features of the physiological microenvironment and elucidate subcellular responses.