Single-molecule fluorescence imaging has become an indispensable tool for almost all fields of research, from fundamental physics to the life sciences. Among its most important applications is single-molecule localization super-resolution microscopy (SMLM) (for example, photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM)1, stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM)2, fluorescent PALM (fPALM)3, direct STORM (dSTORM)4 and point accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography (PAINT)5), which uses the fact that the centre position of a single molecule’s image can be determined with much higher accuracy than the size of that image itself. However, a big challenge of SMLM is to achieve super-resolution along the third dimension as well. Recently, metal-induced energy transfer (MIET) was introduced to axially localize fluorescent emitters6,7,8,9. This exploits the energy transfer from an excited fluorophore to plasmons in a thin metal film. Here, we show that by using graphene as the ‘metal’ layer, one can increase the localization accuracy of MIET by nearly tenfold. We demonstrate this by axially localizing single emitters and by measuring the thickness of lipid bilayers with ångström accuracy.
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The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.
All Matlab routines and codes used for data analysis of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon request.
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We are grateful to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) for financial support through projects A06 of SFB 803, A06 of SFB 860, A05 of SFB 937 and through Germany’s Excellence Strategy EXC 2067/1–390729940. We thank the Leibniz Association for financial support through project K76/2017. We also thank B. R. Brueckner for AFM measurements.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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This file contains more information about the work and Supplementary Figs. 1–5.