It has been over one-and-a-half decades since methods of single-molecule detection and manipulation were first introduced in biochemical research. Since then, the application of these methods to an expanding variety of problems has grown at a vertiginous pace. While initially many of these experiments led more to confirmatory results than to new discoveries, today single-molecule methods are often the methods of choice to establish new mechanism-based results in biochemical research. Throughout this process, improvements in the sensitivity, versatility, and both spatial and temporal resolution of these techniques has occurred hand in hand with their applications. We discuss here some of the advantages of single-molecule methods over their bulk counterparts and argue that these advantages should help establish them as essential tools in the technical arsenal of the modern biochemist.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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