Optical microscopy with Ångström resolution could revolutionise how we see life

Technique can distinguish between details that are just a few atoms apart

An optical-microscopy technique has been created that can distinguish between tiny objects less than 1nm apart. The technique could enable living cells to be viewed in greater detail than ever before.

The new method, dubbed resolution enhancement by sequential imaging (Resi), means the resolving power of fluorescent microscopy can now operate in the Ångström range for the first time. Conventional super-resolution microscopy can distinguish between objects between 15 to 20nm apart, but this does not directly translate to experiments in cells. When super-resolution microscopy came along it was so revolutionary in the life sciences that its developers won the chemistry Nobel prize in 2013.