The scheme shows a rectangle crafted from DNA with two lines of fluorophores at a distance of 70 nm. With a perfectly aligned super-resolution microscope, these lines can be resolved as is visible in the image on the right. This approach allows the construction of a multitude of structures for various types of super-resolution microscopy.
For only a few years, it has been possible to resolve biological structures down to the molecular scale with light microscopy, termed super-resolution microscopy. This has led to a number of new insights into biological processes.However, there have been limits to the techniques: so far it has been difficult to distinguish between sample specific and microscope specific error sources if the images were blurry. Moreover, different techniques could not easily be compared. This issue has recently been resolved by the Technical University of Braunschweig (Nature Methods, December 2012, doi:10.1038/nmeth.2254).
This research has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Biophotonik IV program of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The results possess large economic potential as manufacturers of microscopes (e.g. Leica or Zeiss) started to bring „super-resolution microscopes“ to market. In the future, the nanorulers will be distributed by the spin-off company STS Nanotechnology.
Metrology in Braunschweig:
Not only the National Metrology Institute (PTB) is based in the city. A number of institutes bundled in the Metrology Initiative Braunschweig is developing new metrological methods.
Publication:“Fluorescence and super-resolution standards based on DNA origami”. Jürgen J. Schmied, Andreas Gietl, Phil Holzmeister, Carsten Forthmann, Christian Steinhauer, Thorben Dammeyer and Philip Tinnefeld. (Nature Methods, December 7th, 2012, doi:10.1038/nmeth.2254.)
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