Drs. Eric Betzig, Stefan Hell, and William Moerner have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Chemistry, after developing breakthroughs in nanoscopy and transcending the limits of traditional, optical microscopes. The three scientists will share the reward of 8 million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million USD); Betzig and Moerner are US citizens, whilst Dr. Hell is a German citizen.
Here’s the rundown on why they received the Nobel: for years, scientists believed that the resolution of optical microscopy was limited to half a wavelength of light, or 0.2 micrometers — however, Dr. Hell passed that limit in 2000, when he developed stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy. STED takes two lasers to return images of higher resolution than the limit.
Meanwhile, Betzig and Moerner developed a second method, called single-molecule microscopy, which incorporates a fluorescence of individual molecules and superimposing images to yield a “dense super-image” at the nano level, first demonstrated in 2006.
So, what does nanoscopy do for us today? Well, it’s responsible for breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases, as well as tracking individual molecules inside cells, as well as studying synapses in the brain and to track proteins in fertilized eggs.
Via: Nobel Prize