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Biomedical Optics & Medical Imaging

Stefan Hell video: Nanometer-scale microscopy in biophotonics

Using stimulated emission depletion microscopy and other techniques, Stefan Hell explores new ways to examine living cells noninvasively.
1 April 2011, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201104.01
For many years, applying microscopy with focused light meant that details smaller than half the wavelength of light (200 nm) could not be resolved. Today it is know that using conventional optics it is possible to image at least fluorescent samples with a level of detail far below the diffraction limit. Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) microscopy and newer far-field optical approaches can provide resolutions better than 20 nm, and in principle are able to resolve molecular detail. Thus far-field optical nanoscopy ushers in non-invasive access to the nanoscale of the living cell.

Stefan W. Hell is a director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, and also leads a research division at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. He is credited with having conceived, validated and applied the first viable concept for breaking Abbe's diffraction-limited resolution barrier in a light-focusing microscope. For his accomplishments, in March 2011 he received the Hansen Family Prize, a prestigious German prize in natural sciences, honoring scientists who have made pioneering research contributions in innovative fields of biology and medicine.

Hell's other accolades include the "Deutscher Zukunftspreis" (German Future Prize) for innovation and technology awarded by the German President (2006), the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize from the German Research Foundation (2008) and the Otto Hahn Award for physics (2009).

He was interviewed for SPIE Newsroom at SPIE Photonics West in January 2011, where he presented a plenary talk (see following link).