Nano Research

Article Title

Optical super-resolution microscopy and its applications in nano-catalysis


super-resolution imaging, single molecule, catalysis, microscopy, nanoparticle


The resolution of conventional optical microscopy is only ~200 nm, which is becoming less and less sufficient for a variety of applications. In order to surpass the diffraction limited resolution, super-resolution microscopy (SRM) has been developed to achieve a high resolution of one to tens of nanometers. The techniques involved in SRM can be assigned into two broad categories, namely “true” super-resolution techniques and “functional” super-resolution techniques. In “functional” super-resolution techniques, stochastic super-resolution microscopy (SSRM) is widely used due to its low expense, simple operation,and high resolution. The principle process in SSRM is to accumulate the coordinates of many diffraction-limited emitters (e.g., single fluorescent molecules) on the object by localizing the centroids of the point spread functions (PSF), and then reconstruct the image of the object using these coordinates. When the diffraction-limited emitters take part in a catalytic reaction, the activity distribution and kinetic information about the catalysis by nanoparticles can be obtained by SSRM. SSRM has been applied and exhibited outstanding advantages in several fields of catalysis, such as metal nanoparticle catalysis, molecular sieve catalysis, and photocatalysis. Since SSRM is able to resolve the catalytic activity within one nanoparticle, it promises to accelerate the development and discovery of new and better catalysts. This review will present a brief introduction to SRM, and a detailed description of SSRM and its applications in nano-catalysis.

Graphical Abstract


Tsinghua University Press