Nonlinear structured-illumination microscopy: Wide-field fluorescence imaging with theoretically unlimited resolution
Contrary to the well known diffraction limit, the fluorescence microscope is in principle capable of unlimited resolution. The necessary elements are spatially structured illumination light and a nonlinear dependence of the fluorescence emission rate on the illumination intensity. As an example of this concept, this article experimentally demonstrates saturated structured-illumination microscopy, a recently proposed method in which the nonlinearity arises from saturation of the excited state. This method can be used in a simple, wide-field (nonscanning) microscope, uses only a single, inexpensive laser, and requires no unusual photophysical properties of the fluorophore. The practical resolving power is determined by the signal-to-noise ratio, which in turn is limited by photobleaching. Experimental results show that a 2D point resolution of <50 nm is possible on sufficiently bright and photostable samples.Author contributions: M.G.L.G. designed research, performed research, analyzed data, and wrote the paper.This paper was submitted directly (Track II) to the PNAS office.Abbreviations: SSIM, saturated structured-illumination microscopy; FWHM, full width at half maximum.