Anyone who has used a light microscope has wished that its resolution could be a little better. Now, after centuries of gradual improvements, fluorescence microscopy has made a quantum leap in its resolving power due, in large part, to advancements over the past several years in a new area of research called super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. In this Primer, we explain the principles of various super-resolution approaches, such as STED, (S)SIM, and STORM/(F)PALM. Then, we describe recent applications of super-resolution microscopy in cells, which demonstrate how these approaches are beginning to provide new insights into cell biology, microbiology, and neurobiology.
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