What is PSF Lab?

PSF Lab screenshot

PSF Lab is a software program that calculates the illumination point spread function of a confocal microscope under various imaging conditions. It is based on theory described in the following journal article:

M. J. Nasse and J. C. Woehl
”Realistic modeling of the illumination point spread function in confocal scanning optical microscopy”
Journal of the Optical Society of America A 27, 295-302 (2010)

PSF Lab is available in 32-bit and 64-bit for Windows (1024×768 screen or higher) and in 64-bit for Mac (intel-based; 1280×800 screen or higher).

Main features

  • Easy-to-use graphical user interface with tab-like navigation that fits smaller laptop screens
  • Automatically notifies the user when a new version update is available
  • Continuous image update while PSF calculation is in progress
  • Rigorous, vectorial theory gives access to all electric field components
  • Displays intensity, individual field components, or squared field components
  • Accounts for collimated, monochromatic illumination light with Gaussian or flat intensity profile
  • Polarization of illumination light can be chosen freely (linear, elliptic, or circular)
  • Applies to both low and high numerical aperture objectives
  • Correctly predicts aberrations due to refractive indices (RI) or coverslip thickness that differ from the objective's design parameters
  • Up to three stratified layers can be defined (immersion medium or air, coverslip, sample medium)
  • Set up multiple cycles of calculations with increasing resolution
  • Various display options (linear/logarithmic intensity scale, different colormaps, colorbar on/off)
  • Automatic and regular data backup feature
  • Single-click access to basic statistical parameters (Min/Max, FWHM etc.)
  • Export PSF data to Matlab, HDF5, or ASCII-text data files
  • Save figure to various image file formats


PSF Lab screenshot: File I/O tabPSF Lab screenshot: Illumination tabPSF Lab screenshot: Calculation tabPSF Lab screenshot: Stats tabPSF Lab screenshot: About tabPSF Lab screenshot: HistoryPSF Lab screenshot: SetsPSF Lab screenshot: Plot


PSF Lab can be used freely for non-commercial research and educational purposes under the condition that any publication or presentation that contains results derived from the use of this software 

  1. mentions the software by name (PSF Lab) and 
  2. properly cites the aforementioned journal article:
    M. J. Nasse and J. C. Woehl, J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 27, 295-302 (2010).

By downloading this software, the user agrees to honor these conditions and to use the software for non-commercial research and educational purposes only.

For inquiries concerning commercial use contact the UWM Research Foundation.

Complete PSF Lab installation package

Most users should download the appropriate installation package for their operating system from the list below:
Operating System Version File Size  
32-bit Windows 3.0 171 MB download
64-bit Windows 3.0 175 MB download
64-bit Mac 3.0 150 MB download


Documentation and example files

Description Version Type File Size  
"Getting Started" Manual 3.0 pdf 3 MB download
PSF Lab Data Example (can be loaded into PSF Lab) 3.0 mat 6 MB download
Version History 3.0 txt 5 KB download


PSF Lab executable only

Note that in order to run, PSF Lab requires the Matlab Compiler Runtime (MCR) version 7.14, which is not included in this download option. 

Use this download option only if MCR 7.14 is already installed on your system. This is typically the case if you have MATLAB release R2010b with the MATLAB Compiler installed, or if you are already running compiled MATLAB software that requires MCR 7.14. All other users should download the full PSF Lab installation package above.

Operating System Version File Size Requires  
32-bit Windows 3.0 216 KB MATLAB Compiler Runtime version 7.14 download
64-bit Windows 3.0 252 KB MATLAB Compiler Runtime version 7.14 download
64-bit Mac 3.0 204 KB MATLAB Compiler Runtime version 7.14 download


Developed by Michael J. Nasse with contributions by Jorg C. Woehl. Copyright © 2010-2013 UWM Research Foundation. All rights reserved.