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Super-resolution enhancement by quantum image scanning microscopy


The principles of quantum optics have yielded a plethora of ideas to surpass the classical limitations of sensitivity and resolution in optical microscopy. While some ideas have been applied in proof-of-principle experiments, imaging a biological sample has remained challenging, mainly due to the inherently weak signal measured and the fragility of quantum states of light. In principle, however, these quantum protocols can add new information without sacrificing the classical information and can therefore enhance the capabilities of existing super-resolution techniques. Image scanning microscopy, a recent addition to the family of super-resolution methods, generates a robust resolution enhancement without reducing the signal level. Here, we introduce quantum image scanning microscopy: combining image scanning microscopy with the measurement of quantum photon correlation allows increasing the resolution of image scanning microscopy up to twofold, four times beyond the diffraction limit. We introduce the Q-ISM principle and obtain super-resolved optical images of a biological sample stained with fluorescent quantum dots using photon antibunching, a quantum effect, as a resolution-enhancing contrast mechanism.

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The raw data that support the findings of this study are available in the figshare repository under the name ‘QISM_SoftwareAndData_zip’ and with the identifier

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The authors thank Y. Ebenstein for the preparation of biological samples and S. Itzhakov for synthesizing the quantum dots used in this work. This work was supported by ERC consolidator grant ColloQuanto, ERC grant QUAMI, the ERC-POC project ‘SFICAM’, the ICore program of the ISF, the Crown Photonics Center and the Israeli ministry of science Tashtiyot program. R.L. and A.K.-P. acknowledge the hospitality of the Weizmann Institute of Science and the support of National Science Centre (Poland) grants nos. 2015/17/D/ST2/03471 and 2015/16/S/ST2/00424, the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, and the Foundation for Polish Science under the FIRST TEAM project ‘Spatiotemporal photon correlation measurements for quantum metrology and super-resolution microscopy’ cofinanced by the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund.

Author information

R.T., Y.I., Y.S. and D.O. proposed and designed the experiment. R.T., U.R., B.R., Y.I. and R.L. performed the experimental work. R.T., U.R., B.R., A.K.-P. and R.L. performed the data analysis. R.T. wrote the manuscript with significant contributions from all authors.

Competing interests

The authors delcare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Dan Oron.

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Supplementary Information

This file contains more information about the work and Supplementary Figures 1–9.

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Further reading

Fig. 1: Q-ISM principle of operation.
Fig. 2: Resolving emitters with Q-ISM.
Fig. 3: Q-ISM of labelled microtubule cell samples.
Fig. 4: Resolving power of Q-ISM in the axial dimension.