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Imaging Nanostructures by Single-Molecule Localization Microscopy in Organic Solvents

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journal contribution
posted on 17.02.2016, 00:00 by Antonio Aloi, Andreas Vargas Jentzsch, Neus Vilanova, Lorenzo Albertazzi, E. W. Meijer, Ilja K. Voets
The introduction of super-resolution fluorescence microscopy (SRM) opened an unprecedented vista into nanoscopic length scales, unveiling a new degree of complexity in biological systems in aqueous environments. Regrettably, supramolecular chemistry and material science benefited far less from these recent developments. Here we expand the scope of SRM to photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) imaging of synthetic nanostructures that are highly dynamic in organic solvents. Furthermore, we characterize the photophysical properties of commonly used photoactivatable dyes in a wide range of solvents, which is made possible by the addition of a tiny amount of an alcohol. As proof-of-principle, we use PALM to image silica beads with radii close to Abbe’s diffraction limit. Individual nanoparticles are readily identified and reliably sized in multicolor mixtures of large and small beads. We further use SRM to visualize nm-thin yet μm-long dynamic, supramolecular polymers, which are among the most challenging molecular systems to image.