Single-Molecule Microscopy and Spectroscopy: Faraday Discussion


14 – 16 September 2015
London, UK


Since their inception, optical detection and spectroscopy of single molecules have steadily expanded to an amazing variety of disciplines in natural sciences. Domains as varied as optical microscopy, quantum optics, nanophotonics, material science and soft-matter physical chemistry all have benefited from the new, average-free insights provided by the optical isolation of single molecules, quantum dots, metal nanoparticles, and other nanometre-sized objects. The techniques themselves have also made spectacular progress with the developments in super-resolution microscopy, time-resolved measurements, absorption-based detection, combination with mechanical or electrical manipulation and recording, live-cell imaging, and metal nanoparticle-enhanced phenomena.

At the chemistry-biology interface, new probes are needed for the study of various biological processes, most of them in live cells or even live organisms, but also for superresolution microscopy. The plasmonics-chemistry interface includes studies of catalysis, diffusion in soft materials and nanofluidics. At the border between quantum optics, plasmonics and physical chemistry, low-temperature spectroscopy experiments provide candidates for the manipulation of single spins as qubits, while new structures can be designed as nanoantennas to enhance molecular fluorescence and a broad variety of nonlinear optical processes.


  • Quantum optics and Plasmonics
    Single molecules have been used for many years as test systems in quantum optics, but the combination with plasmonics opens new routes for enhancement of excitation and emission
  • Probes and Sensors for Molecular Biophysics
    Plasmonic structures can be used as bright and stable labels, as rulers to probe dynamics, or as antennas to efficiently extract information from the nanoscale. These applications are particularly attractive in biophysics.
  • Superresolution and Imaging of Soft and Biological Matter
    Optical microscopy recently underwent a true revolution with superresolution imaging and a broad variety of nonlinear optical imaging modalities. The latter will be discussed in the restricted frame of single molecules and single objects.
  • Nonlinear optics and Coherence in Biophysics
    In relation with the previous subject, tailored light pulses open the way to manipulations of the quantum states of single molecules, and to the exploration of coherent effects in biological processes such as photosynthesis or electron transfer.


  • W E Moerner (Opening Lecturer)
    Stanford University
  • Stefan W. Hell (Closing Remarks)
    Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry
  • Xiaowei Zhuang
    Harvard University
  • Jens Michaelis
    University of Ulm
  • Ronald Hanson
    Delft University of Technology
  • Jörg Wrachtrup
    University of Stuttgart
  • Maxime Dahan
    Laboratoire Physico-Chimie, Institut Curie
  • Brahim Lounis
    Université Bordeaux 1
  • Lukas Novotny
    ETH Zurich
  • Haw Yang
    Princeton University
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