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Method for high frequency tracking and sub-nm sample stabilization in single molecule fluorescence microscopy.


While fluorescence microscopes and atomic force microscopes are widely used to visualize, track, and manipulate single biomolecules, the resolution of these methods is limited by sample drift. To minimize drift, active feedback methods have recently been used to stabilize single molecule microscopes on the sub-nanometer scale. However, these methods require high intensity lasers which limits their application in single molecule fluorescence measurements. Furthermore, these feedback methods do not track user-defined regions of the sample, but rather monitor the relative displacement of an unknown point on a fiducial marker, which limits their use in biological force measurements. To overcome these limitations, we have developed a novel method to image, track and stabilize a sample using low laser intensities. We demonstrate the capabilities of our approach by tracking a user-chosen point on a fiducial marker at 8.6 kHz and stabilizing it with sub-nanometer resolution. We further showcase the application of our method in single molecule fluorescence microscopy by imaging and stabilizing individual fluorescently-tagged streptavidin proteins under biologically relevant conditions. We anticipate that our method can be easily used to improve the resolution of a wide range of single molecule fluorescence microscopy and integrated force-fluorescence applications.

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