Nobel Prize in Chemistry has link to CUDOS research


The 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy has a close link to CUDOS research.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Science has awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2014 to Stefan W. Hell, Eric Betzig and William E. Moerner for having bypassed a presumed scientific limitation stipulating that an optical microscope can never yield a resolution better than 0.2 micrometres. This ground-breaking work has brought optical microscopy into the nanodimension.

To date there are two far-field principles that lead to fluorescene-based microscopy with a resolution far beyond the Abbe’s stiplulated limit of 0.2 micrometres. These two principles have now been rewarded by the Nobel Prize Committee: super-resolved ensemble fluorophere microscopy and super-resolved single fluorophore microscopy.

STED microscopy

The first one enables the method stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy, developed by Stefan Hell in 2000. Two laser beams are utilised; one stimulates fluorescent molecules to glow, 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 Abbe’s limit. The second principle laid the foundation for the single-molecule microscopy, elaborated separately by Eric Betzig and William Moerner.

The methods developed by the three researchers have led to several nanoscopy techniques and are currently used all over the world. CUDOS Chief Investigator Professor Min Gu from the Swinburne node Centre for Micro-Photonics has been a pioneer of the STED-like technique. He has met Stefan Hell in 1993 at the University of Sydney and they have crossed path several times since then. "I am very pleased with the fact that the STED method and Stefan were awarded the Nobel Prize,” says Min Gu.

The STED method has been widely used by Min Gu’s team in CUDOS research. The CUDOS paper ‘Three-dimensional deep sub-diffraction optical beam lithography with 9 nm feature size’ which was published in Nature Communications in June 2013, was inspired by Stefan Hell’s STED principle.

Read the Nature Communications Paper.