It is less than 20 years since super-resolution arrived on the light microscopy scene, but it already plays an important role, particularly in life sciences. The term super-resolution refers to methods that surpass the so-called diffraction limit. Applications are wide ranging – from dynamic vesicle movements in the sub-100 nm range to fluorescence images of sub-cellular structures, allowing researchers to see details only previously possible with electron microscopy.
The introduction of the Leica TCS SP8 STED 3X in 2014 marks Leica Microsystems’ 10th anniversary of leading innovations in super-resolution technology. In 2004, Leica Microsystems revolutionized light microscopy with the introduction of the first commercial super-resolution microscope, Leica TCS 4PI. During the last ten years, Leica Microsystems has continuously developed its super-resolution portfolio and today offers both confocal and widefield super-resolution technologies: STED (STimulated Emission Depletion) and GSDIM/dSTORM (Ground State Depletion followed by Individual Molecule return/direct Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy).
Underlining the impact of super-resolution microscopy, the 2014 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded jointly to Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner "for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy".