May 21, 2019 | Updated: 12:07 PM EDT

Scientists Develop MINFLUX Microscope That's 100 Times Sharper Than Regular Flourescence Microscope

Apr 26, 2017 11:53 AM EDT

An image of regular microscope in the laboratory.
(Photo : Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) An image of regular microscope in the laboratory.

Scientists have finally found the way to increase the resolution of the fluorescence microscope. The combination of the two Nobel prize winning invention has produced a new technology called MINFLUX, which is able to produce image 100 times sharper than the conventional light microscope.

The combination of two inventions from American and German scientists that won Nobel Prize as reported by Nanotech have been able to enhance the resolution in fluorescence microscopy to its ultimate level. American physicists Eric Betzig and William Moerner shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with German's scientist Stefan Hell for their inventions.

Betzig and Moerner invented a photoactivated localization microscopy, or PALM, an enhancement of the previous method from Harvard University physicist Xiaowei Zhuang. In 2006, Zhuang invented a stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy, or STORM, which worked in a similar manner with Betzig and Moerner. The technique switches fluorophores to on and off position randomly and uses the emitted photons at a camera to reconstruct the location of each fluorophore.

However, this technique requires hundreds of thousands of photons to be able to detect single-molecule (nanometre) resolution. Moreover, most of the fluorophores have degraded before emitting that much light.

On the other hand, Hell, one of the directors at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany invented the stimulated emission depletion microscopy or STED. This microscope uses two beams of light to detect the fluorophores. The first one is to illuminate the fluorophores, and the second one is to suppress the fluorophores. Unfortunately, his approach to suppress the fluorophores required a beam that is quite powerful to destroy the sample.

Professor Hell combined his STED with PALM/STORM from Betzig, Moerner, and Zhuang. He called the combined technology as MINFLUX. According to the official press release from Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, the combined method is able to provide 100 times sharper image of nanometers molecules, at the size of one millionth of a millimeter.

Watch the interview with professor Hell when he received the Nobel Prize in 2014 below:

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