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).
Scientists from the Institute for Physical and Theoretical Chemistry developed special self-assembled nanorulers. These nanorulers are used to evaluate resolution and light-sensitivity of microscopes on the nanoscale. “In analogy to distance marks on a common ruler, spots with a defined number of fluorescent dye molecules are employed as marks”, the group leader Prof. Philip Tinnefeld describes the main principle. The scaffold of these structures is a long circular DNA molecule which is folded in the desired shape by adding hundreds of short complementary DNA staple strands. Millions of these so-called DNA origami structures can be assembled simultaneously in a single step. Depending on the desired application, the structures can be reprogrammed to host various dye molecules at different positions.
With these nanorulers the scientists can now evaluate the performance of microscopes and different microscopy techniques. The rulers can be adjusted to different sensitivities and resolutions of all common optical super-resolution techniques. Especially for the resolution range of 6-200 nm, which has become accessible a few years ago, the nanorulers provide the possibility to compare currently competing microscopy techniques.
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.
“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.)
Prof. Dr. Philip Tinnefeld
Institut für Physikalische und Theoretische Chemie
Technische Universität Braunschweig
Tel.: +49 531- 391 5330
Further Reports about: biological process > DNA > DNA molecule > DNA origami > DNA origami structures > dye molecules > microscopy technique > microscopy techniques > nanoworld > Nature Immunology > short complementary DNA > spin-off company STS Nanotechnology > super-resolution microscopy
More articles from Life Sciences:
Drought makes Borneo’s trees flower at the same time
22.05.2013 | Universität Zürich
Researchers find genetic tie to improved survival time for pulmonary fibrosis
22.05.2013 | University of Colorado Denver
A fried breakfast food popular in Spain provided the inspiration for the development of doughnut-shaped droplets that may provide scientists with a new approach for studying fundamental issues in physics, mathematics and materials.
The doughnut-shaped droplets, a shape known as toroidal, are formed from two dissimilar liquids using a simple rotating stage and an injection needle. About a millimeter in overall size, the droplets are produced individually, their shapes maintained by a surrounding springy material made of polymers.
Droplets in this toroidal shape made ...
Frauhofer FEP will present a novel roll-to-roll manufacturing process for high-barriers and functional films for flexible displays at the SID DisplayWeek 2013 in Vancouver – the International showcase for the Display Industry.
Displays that are flexible and paper thin at the same time?! What might still seem like science fiction will be a major topic at the SID Display Week 2013 that currently takes place in Vancouver in Canada.
High manufacturing cost and a short lifetime are still a major obstacle on ...
University of Würzburg physicists have succeeded in creating a new type of laser.
Its operation principle is completely different from conventional devices, which opens up the possibility of a significantly reduced energy input requirement. The researchers report their work in the current issue of Nature.
It also emits light the waves of which are in phase with one another: the polariton laser, developed ...
Innsbruck physicists led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller experimentally gained a deep insight into the nature of quantum mechanical phase transitions.
They are the first scientists that simulated the competition between two rival dynamical processes at a novel type of transition between two quantum mechanical orders. They have published the results of their work in the journal Nature Physics.
“When water boils, its molecules are released as vapor. We call this ...
Researchers have shown that, by using global positioning systems (GPS) to measure ground deformation caused by a large underwater earthquake, they can provide accurate warning of the resulting tsunami in just a few minutes after the earthquake onset.
For the devastating Japan 2011 event, the team reveals that the analysis of the GPS data and issue of a detailed tsunami alert would have taken no more than three minutes. The results are published on 17 May in Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, an open access journal of ...
22.05.2013 | Life Sciences
22.05.2013 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
22.05.2013 | Earth Sciences
17.05.2013 | Event News
15.05.2013 | Event News
08.05.2013 | Event News