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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2005 Feb;16(1):3-12.

From micro to nano: recent advances in high-resolution microscopy.

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  • 1Delft University of Technology, Lorentzweg 1, 2628 CJ, Delft, The Netherlands.


Improving the spatial resolution of optical microscopes is important for a vast number of applications in the life sciences. Optical microscopy allows intact samples and living cells to be studied in their natural environment, tasks that are not possible with other microscopy methods (e.g. electron microscopy). Major advances in the past two decades have significantly improved microscope resolution. By using interference and structured light methods microscope resolution has been improved to approximately 100 nm, and with non-linear methods a ten times improvement has been demonstrated to a current resolution limit of approximately 30 nm. These methods bring together old theoretical concepts such as interference with novel non-linear methods that improve spatial resolution beyond the limits that were previously assumed to be unreachable.

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