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Phys Rev Lett. 2004 Nov 12;93(20):200801. Epub 2004 Nov 10.

High-resolution imaging of single fluorescent molecules with the optical near-field of a metal tip.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie, Abteilung Molekulare Strukturbiologie, Am Klopferspitz 18, 82152 Martinsried, Germany.


We show that a concentration of light at a metal tip allows near-field optical imaging of single fluorescent dye molecules at very high resolution, despite strong quenching effects. Details as small as 10 nm were observed in the fluorescence patterns of single Cy-3 dyes bound to the termini of DNA. Data evaluation by model fitting determines the positions of the dyes to an accuracy even better than 1 nm and also yields their 3D orientation. The metal tip simultaneously provides high-resolution topographic imaging complementing the optical signal for a detailed surface examination.

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