Department “Optical Nanoscopy“
In the last decades, light microscopy has emerged as an indispensable tool in the life sciences and in the materials sciences. Its strengths lie in its ability to get a three-dimensional image from the interior of sufficiently translucent samples. Conventional light microscopy suffers from the drawback that its resolution is limited to 200 – 300 nm due to the wave nature of light. Therefore, crucial dimensions like those on the molecular scale stayed out of reach.
Super resolution fluorescence microscopy avoids this limitation by using a trick. The properties of fluorescent markers are used such that the information within a blurred spot is read out sequentially.
In the life sciences, optical nanoscopy helps to visualize structure and function in living cells. This provides fantastic possibilities to gain insight into the ongoing molecular processes.
This knowledge is one of the keys to the understanding of diseases and the development of new diagnostic tools, novel drugs and their therapeutic use.
Fields of application in the materials sciences are the simulation of atomic and molecular systems with the help of colloidal particles or the investigation of the self-organization of nanostructures. The size of the used colloidal particles is not limited by the diffraction limit and can therefore be used as an important control parameter. Moreover, the basic principles of optical nanoscopy can not only be applied for imaging, but also for sample manipulation, e. g. by lithography of small structures below the diffraction limit for the fabrication of computer chips.
The “Optical Nanoscopy” department, established in the third quarter of 2010, performs applied research in the field of “fluorescence microscopy below the diffraction limit” and develops new methods. Its emphasis lies on two complementary far-field high resolution techniques in fluorescence microscopy:
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