BIOPHYSICS: Nanometer resolution imaging and tracking of fluorescent molecules with minimal photon fluxes

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We introduce MINFLUX, a concept for localizing photon emitters in space. By probing the emitter with a local intensity minimum of excitation light, MINFLUX minimizes the fluorescence photons needed for high localization precision. In our experiments, 22 times fewer fluorescence photons are required as compared to popular centroid localization. In superresolution microscopy, MINFLUX attained ˜1-nanometer precision, resolving molecules only 6 nanometers apart. MINFLUX tracking of single fluorescent proteins increased the temporal resolution and the number of localizations per trace by a factor of 100, as demonstrated with diffusing 30S ribosomal subunits in livingEscherichia coli.As conceptual limits have not been reached, we expect this localization modality to break new ground for observing the dynamics, distribution, and structure of macromolecules in living cells and beyond.

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