Optical detection of single molecules

Shuming Nie, Richard N. Zare

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Recent advances in ultrasensitive instrumentation have allowed for the detection, identification, and dynamic studies of single molecules in the condensed phase. This measurement capability provides a new set of tools for scientists to address important current problems and to explore new frontiers in many scientific disciplines, such as chemistry, molecular biology, molecular medicine, and nanostructured materials. This review focuses on the methodologies and biological applications of single-molecule detection based on laser-induced fluorescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-596
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Confocal microscopy
  • DNA
  • Fluorescence
  • Molecular motors
  • Near-field optics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology


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