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Phys Rev Lett. 2005 Apr 15;94(14):143903. Epub 2005 Apr 15.

Nanoscale resolution in the focal plane of an optical microscope.

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Department of NanoBiophotonics, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, 37070 Göttingen, Germany.


Utilizing single fluorescent molecules as probes, we prove the ability of a far-field microscope to attain spatial resolution down to 16 nm in the focal plane, corresponding to about 1/50 of the employed wavelength. The optical bandwidth expansion by nearly an order of magnitude is realized by a saturated depletion through stimulated emission of the molecular fluorescent state. We demonstrate that en route to the molecular scale, the resolving power increases with the square root of the saturation level, which constitutes a new law regarding the resolution of an emerging class of far-field light microscopes that are not limited by diffraction.

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