Dyba, M. and Hell, S. W.
Focal spot of size λ/23 open up far-field fluorescence microscopy at 33 nm axial resolution. Physical Review Letters 88: 163901-4 (2002).

We report spots of excited molecules of 33 nm width created with focused light of λ = 760nm wavelength and conventional optics along the optic axis. This is accomplished by exciting the molecules with a femtosecond pulse and subsequent depletion of their excited state with red-shifted, picosecond-pulsed, counterpropagating, coherent light fields. The λ/23 ratio constitutes what is to our knowledge the sharpest spatial definition attained with freely propagating electromagnetic radiation. The sub-diffraction spots enable for the first time far-field fluorescence microscopy with resolution at the tens of nanometer scale, as demonstrated in images of membranes of bacillus megaterium.