Toward nanometer-scale resolution in fluorescence microscopy using spectral self-interference

Anna K. Swan*, Lev A. Moiseev, C. R. Cantor, Brynmor Davis, S. B. Ippolito, William Clem Karl, Bennett B. Goldberg, M. Selim Ünlü

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


We introduce a new fluorescence microscopy technique that maps the axial position of a fluorophore with subnanometer precision. The interference of the emission of fluorophores in proximity to a reflecting surface results in fringes in the fluorescence spectrum that provide a unique signature of the axial position of the fluorophore. The nanometer sensitivity is demonstrated by measuring the height of a fluorescein monolayer covering a 12-nm step etched in silicon dioxide. In addition, the separation between fluorophores attached to the top or the bottom layer in a lipid bilayer film is determined. We further discuss extension of this microscopy technique to provide resolution of multiple layers spaced as closely as 10 nm for sparse systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-300
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Interference
  • Spectroscopy
  • Ultra high-optical resolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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