In the fields of Biophysics and Molecular Biology researchers strive to unveil and model the molecular processes associated with living organisms.
The ever increasing demand for information at the nanometer scale has driven the recent development of innovative imaging techniques that push the boundaries of microscopy to new levels of detail. These new techniques have been termed superresolution microscopy, and the discoverers of their fundamental principles have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2014. In this article (the first part of a two-part series) we introduce the basic concepts of light microscopy, with special attention to its applications to biological studies. The intrinsic limits in conventional microscopic images are also discussed. The second part of this article series deals with fluorescence microscopy and provides a simple explanation of two essential superresolution techniques: STED and PALM.