One German, Two US Researchers Win 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

World | October 8, 2014, Wednesday // 14:56|  views

A handout image released by Stanford University of Professor William E. Moerner who has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Eric Betzig and Stefan W. Hell in Stanford, California, USA, 8 October 2014. Photo EPA/BGNES

Three researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014 on Wednesday for improving the resolution of microscopes. 

Their work allows optical microscopes to study cells in the tiniest molecular detail, aiding in research of diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. 

The scientists – two from the Unites States and one from Germany – have been awarded the prize for finding a way around the limitations of optical microscopy. 

“For a long time optical microscopy was held back by a presumed limitation: that it would never obtain a better resolution than half the wavelength of light. Helped by fluorescent molecules, the Nobel laureates in chemistry 2014 ingeniously circumvented this limitation,” the Nobel Assembly, which awards the prize, said in a statement. 

The ‘ground-breaking’ work of the trio - German Stefan W. Hell and Americans Eric Betzig and William Moerner - has brought “optical microscopy into the nanodimension,” enabling scientists to view molecular-level processes in real time. 

The basis of their work uses laser beams to excite fluorescent molecules so that they glow, and then cancelling or filtering out some of the fluorescence to get precise images rather than blurring. 

“Today, nanoscopy is used worldwide and new knowledge of the greatest benefit to mankind is produced on a daily basis." 

The three scientists will share the prize sum of SEK 8 M (USD 1.1 M).


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Tags: fluorescent molecules, resolution, microscopes, chemistry, Nobel prize


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