Super-Resolution - On a Heuristic Point of View About the Resolution of a Light Microscope

Dr. Rolf T Borlinghaus Kontakt, Leica Microsystems GmbH

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Since super-resolution has become one of the most favored methods in biomedical research, the term is gaining in popularity. Still, there is considerable confusion about what super-resolution is and what resolution is at all. Here, the classical view of microscopic resolution is discussed and some techniques that resolve better than classical are briefly introduced. The picture below shows the intensity distribution of an image of two points whose distance is just the Rayleigh criterion (false color coding).

What is resolution?

In our context, resolution is the opposite of fusion. When something appears resolved, we can distinguish the discrete components. In microscopy, three main methods are used to describe resolution. One is the Abbe formula, named after Ernst Abbe. He studied linear structures in transmitted light.

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