Single-molecule detection (SMD) allows static and dynamic heterogeneities from seemingly equal molecules to be revealed in the studies of molecular structures and intra- and inter-molecular interactions. Micro- and nanometer-sized structures, including channels, chambers, droplets, etc., in microfluidic and nanofluidic devices allow diffusion-controlled reactions to be accelerated and provide high signal-to-noise ratio for optical signals. These two active research frontiers have been combined to provide unprecedented capabilities for chemical and biological studies. This review summarizes the advances of SMD performed on microfluidic and nanofluidic devices published in the past five years. The latest developments on optical SMD methods, microfluidic SMD platforms, and on-chip SMD applications are discussed herein and future development directions are also envisioned.
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