Near-field optical imaging using optically trapped nanoparticles
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Our ability to understand the structures and functions of living systems on a cellular and molecular level is mostly determined by the availability of imaging techniques capable of accessing a nanoscopic spatial resolution as well as providing structural information on molecular systems in vivo. While optical methods provide non-invasiveness, their spatial resolution is limited by a fundamental diffraction limit revealed more than 150 years ago by Ernst Abbe. This report addresses this grand-challenge and suggests a novel way of minimally invasive nanoscopic optical imaging inside a living cell. A powerful combination of optical tweezers, nonlinear optics and material science holds a promise of achieving unprecedented resolution of live-cell imaging, which should significantly advance our knowledge of molecular functions on a cellular level.