Light microscopy trailblazers win Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014

Three light microscopy pioneers—Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell, and William E. Moerner—have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014 for two separate achievements in breaking the optical diffraction limit, which enables better resolution (>0.2 µm) than half the wavelength of light. With the help of fluorescent molecules, the prizewinners were each able to circumvent this limitation.

Related: Nobel Prize honors super-resolution optical microscopy

 

Hell developed the stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy method in 2000, which uses two laser beams—one stimulates fluorescent molecules to glow while another cancels out all fluorescence, except for that in a nanometer-sized volume. Scanning over the sample, nanometer for nanometer, yields an image with a resolution better than the diffraction limit.

The vimentin network of a neuron is revealed by confocal (outer) and nanoscale-resolution STED (inner part) modalities. The STED image shows single filaments that appear in the confocal reference as blurs
The vimentin network of a neuron is revealed by confocal (outer) and nanoscale-resolution STED (inner part) modalities. The STED image shows single filaments that appear in the confocal reference as blurs. (STED recording described in D.E. Wildanger et al., Opt. Exp., 16, 9614–9621 [2008]; image courtesy of Stefan W. Hell)

Betzig and Moerner, working separately, laid the foundation for the second method, single-molecule microscopy. The method relies upon the possibility to turn the fluorescence of individual molecules on and off. Scientists can image the same area multiple times, letting just a few interspersed molecules glow each time. Superimposing these images yields a dense super-resolution image. In 2006, Betzig utilized this method for the first time.

Both methods are part of what has become known as nanoscopy, which allows scientists to visualize the pathways of individual molecules inside living cells. They can see how molecules create synapses between nerve cells in the brain; track proteins involved in Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's diseases as they aggregate; and follow individual proteins in fertilized eggs as these divide into embryos.

For more information, please visit www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/2014.

-----

Follow us on Twitter, 'like' us on Facebook, connect with us on Google+, and join our group on LinkedIn

Subscribe now to BioOptics World magazine; it's free!

Get All the BioOptics World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to BioOptics World Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now
Related Articles

New bioimaging technique offers clear view of nervous system

Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians University have developed a technique for turning the body of a deceased rodent entirely transparent, revealing the central nervous system in unprecedented clarity....

Fluorescent jellyfish proteins light up unconventional laser

Safer lasers to map your cells could soon be in the offing -- all thanks to the humble jellyfish. Conventional lasers, like the pointer you might use to entertain your cat, produce light by emittin...

Microscope detects one million-plus biomarkers for sepsis in 30 minutes

A microscope has the potential to simultaneously detect more than one million biomarkers for sepsis at the point of care.

Eye test that pairs two in vivo imaging methods may detect Parkinson's earlier

A low-cost, noninvasive eye test pairs two in vivo imaging methods to help detect Parkinson's before clinical symptoms appear.

BLOGS

Neuro15 exhibitors meet exacting demands: Part 2

Increasingly, neuroscientists are working with researchers in disciplines such as chemistry and p...

Why be free?

A successful career contributed to keeping OpticalRayTracer—an optical design software program—fr...

LASER Munich 2015 is bio-bent

LASER World of Photonics 2015 included the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics among its si...

White Papers

Understanding Optical Filters

Optical filters can be used to attenuate or enhance an image, transmit or reflect specific wavele...

How can I find the right digital camera for my microscopy application?

Nowadays, image processing is found in a wide range of optical microscopy applications. Examples ...

CONNECT WITH US

            

Twitter- BioOptics World