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STED Nanoscopy with Fluorescent Quantum Dots

The widely popular class of quantum-dot molecular labels could so far not be utilized as standard fluorescent probes in STED (stimulated emission depletion) nanoscopy. This is because broad quantum-dot excitation spectra extend deeply into the spectral bands used for STED, thus compromising the transient fluorescence silencing required for attaining super-resolution. Here we report the discovery that STED nanoscopy of several red-emitting commercially available quantum dots is in fact successfully realized by the increasingly popular 775 nm STED laser light. A resolution of presently ~50 nm is demonstrated for single quantum dots, and sub-diffraction resolution is further shown for imaging of quantum-dot-labelled vimentin filaments in fibroblasts. The high quantum-dot photostability enables repeated STED recordings with >1,000 frames. In addition, we have evidence that the tendency of quantum-dot labels to blink is largely suppressed by combined action of excitation and STED beams. Quantum-dot STED significantly expands the realm of application of STED nanoscopy, and, given the high stability of these probes, holds promise for extended time-lapse imaging.


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Hanne J, Falk HJ, Görlitz F, Hoyer P, Engelhardt J, Sahl SJ, and Hell SW:
STED Nanoscopy with Fluorescent Quantum Dots

Nature Communications 6: 7127 (2015); doi: 10.1038/ncomms8127