Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Light microscopy

Beyond the diffraction limit?

The wave nature of light manifests itself in diffraction, which hampers attempts to determine the location of molecules. Clever use of microscopic techniques might now be circumventing the 'diffraction limit'.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Dyba, M. & Hell, S. W. Phys. Rev. Lett. 88, 163901 (2002).

  2. Abbe, E. Arch. Mikrosk. Anat. 9, 413–468 (1873).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Heisenberg, W. Z. Phys. 43, 172–198 (1927).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Stelzer, E. H. K. & Grill, S. Opt. Commun. 173, 51–56 (2000).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Lukosz, W. J. Opt. Soc. Am. 57, 932–941 (1967).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Gustafsson, M. G. L., Agard, D. A. & Sedat, J. W. J. Microsc. 195, 10–16 (1999).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Hell, S. & Stelzer, E. H. K. J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 9, 2159–2166 (1992).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Stelzer, E. H. K. J. Microsc. 189, 15–24 (1997).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Toraldo di Francia, G. Atti Fond. Giorgio Ronchi 7, 366–372 (1952).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Martinez-Corral, M., Caballero, M. T., Stelzer, E. H. K. & Swoger, J. Opt. Express 10, 98–103 (2002).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ernst H. K. Stelzer.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Stelzer, E. Beyond the diffraction limit?. Nature 417, 806–807 (2002).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing