Limits to Resolution of CW STED Microscopy

Alexei S. Trifonov*, Jean Christophe Jaskula, Claire Teulon, David R. Glenn, Nir Bar-Gill, Ronald L. Walsworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We report a systematic theoretical and experimental study of the limits to spatial resolution for stimulated emission depletion (STED) superresolution fluorescence microscopy using continuous wave (CW) laser beams. We develop a theoretical framework for CW STED imaging from point fluorescent emitters and calculate the dependence of 2D spatial resolution on the power of the CW excitation (pump) beam, as well as the power, contrast, and polarization of the CW STED "doughnut" beam. We perform CW STED experiments on (non-bleaching) nitrogen vacancy (NV) color centers in diamond and find good agreement with the theoretical expressions for CW STED spatial resolution. Our results will aid the optimization and application of CW STED microscopy in both the physical and life sciences.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationAdvances in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages24
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
ISSN (Print)1049-250X

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge helpful discussions with Huiliang Zhang, David Le Sage, Chinmay Belthangady, Linh Pham, Peter Maurer, Silvia Arroyo Camejo, and Stefan Hell. This work was supported by the DARPA QuASAR program and by the NSF.


  • Optical microscopy
  • Superresolution


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