Nobel Prize honors super-resolution optical microscopy

"This year's prize is about how the optical microscope became a nanoscope," said Staffan Normark, Permanent Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in announcing the winners of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Barbara G 720

"This year's prize is about how the optical microscope became a nanoscope," said Staffan Normark, Permanent Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in announcing the winners of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

"It's just a fascinating engineering challenge," is how Eric Betzig described super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. Betzig made his statement in an interview with Nobel Media following the announcement earlier today that he, along with Stefan Hell and William E. Moerner, had won the prize "for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy."

Chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry 2014 Sven Lidin interpreted the impact of super-resolution microscopy by noting that it "doesn't only tell us where, but when and how." And that "guesswork has turned into hard facts, and obscurity has turned into clarity."

When I wrote in 2013 that "this [super-resolution microscopy] will be an interesting area to watch over time," I wasn't thinking about the Nobel Prize. I wonder whether the impact of the prize will approach the impact that super-resolution microscopy has had on life sciences research.

Congratulations and sincere thanks to Dr. Betzig, Dr. Hell, and Dr. Moerner for their contributions to life sciences research and bio-optics.

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