Courtesy Photograph: Jonathunder Medal: Erik Lindberg (1873-1966) This past week a Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to three scientists for finding ways to use fluorescent molecules that glow on demand to allow scientists to peer into living cells. Using beams of laser light, an area is scanned multiple times making the molecules glow; images are then super-imposed to yield an image at the nanoscale.
The ground-breaking work by these three scientists brought optical microscopy into the nano dimension. Previously, the limit of optical microscopes was presumed to be roughly half the wavelength of light (0.2 micrometers).
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences when announcing the award, stated,
"In what has become known as nanoscopy, scientists visualize the pathways of individual molecules inside living cells. They can see how molecules create synapses between nerve cells in the brain; they can track proteins involved in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases as they aggregate; they follow individual proteins in fertilized eggs as these divide into embryos.
Two separate principles are rewarded. One enables the method stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy, developed by Stefan Hell in 2000. Two laser beams are utilized; one stimulates fluorescent molecules to glow, another cancels out all fluorescence except for that in a nanometre-sized volume. Scanning over the sample, nanometre for nanometre, yields an image with a resolution better than Abbe’s stipulated limit.
Eric Betzig and William 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 image the same area multiple times, letting just a few interspersed molecules glow each time. Superimposing these images yields a dense super-image resolved at the nanolevel. In 2006 Eric Betzig utilized this method for the first time.
Today, nanoscopy is used world-wide and new knowledge of greatest benefit to mankind is produced on a daily basis."
The three winners are:
1) Eric Betzig, U.S. citizen. Born 1960 in Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
Ph.D. 1988 from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.
Group Leader at Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, VA, USA.
2) Stefan W. Hell, German citizen. Born 1962 in Arad, Romania.
Ph.D. 1990 from the University of Heidelberg, Germany.
Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, and Division head at the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.
3) William E. Moerner, U.S. citizen. Born 1953 in Pleasanton, CA, USA.
Ph.D. 1982 from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.
Harry S. Mosher Professor in Chemistry and Professor, by courtesy, of Applied Physics at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.
To learn more about this research visit:
2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry - Periodic Table of Videos
The Nobel Prize announcement:
Background about the limit of optical microscopes known as Abbes' Diffraction Limit (0.2 μm)
To learn more about nanotechnology, science, and engineering, visit:
To see other nano stories on Science Buzz tagged #nano visit:
Courtesy Tiago Daniel
We’ve written before about compact fluorescent light bulbs – a new type of bulb you can buy for your home that uses a lot less electricity than standard bulbs, and thus reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. But are they all they’re cracked up to be?
Some environmental groups warn that the bulbs contain mercury, which can be toxic and difficult to clean up in the event of a broken bulb.
Researchers in England claim the bulbs can trigger migraines, epilepsy and lupus.
And a review panel assembled by the New York Times concluded that most CFL bulbs do not give off attractive light.
Though a step in the right direction, clearly there are still some bugs to work out of the bulbs.
We've discussed energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs elsewhere on this blog. Now, Popular Science magazine has a round up of the next generation in low-energy lighting technology.
The website One Billion Bulbs want to help reduce pollution, energy consumption, and greenhouse gases by getting people worldwide to change their old-style incandescent light bulbs to new compact fluorescents. Their goal: one billion light bulbs changed.
They still have a ways to go. As of this morning, they were around 56,000.
Science Buzz has decided to help! We want to see how many light bulbs our devoted readers can change. If you’re interested, go to this site. Click on “Join the Group” and register. Then, as you change out your light bulbs, record your activity.
The home page of One Billion Bulbs lists the most active groups. We’d like to see Science Buzz on that list! Join now!.
Want to know how much money you’ll save, and how much pollution you’ll prevent, by changing to fluorescent bulbs? Use this handy calculator:
(How many Science Buzz readers does it take to change a light bulb? We’ll find out soon enough!)