Scientists Receive Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Enhancing the Power of Microscopes

Three scientists, Eric Betzig of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stefan W. Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany, and William E. Moerner of Stanford University, are the recipients of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. Their technique allows optical microscopes to resolve extremely small structures within living cells, thus enabling researchers to observe molecular processes in great detail.

Dr. Betzig has received several patents related to microscopy (US8629413, US8718106, US8730573). Dr. Hell is listed as an inventor on nearly 100 patent applications; he received his first patent related to SRFM in 2011 (US7894067). Dr. Moerner’s related patents include US8693742.

Microscopes in general are classified in the CPC under G02B 21/00 and fluorescence microscopy is classified under G01N 21/00.

A number of Nobel Laureates have been honored for their contributions to microscopy.

In 1982, Aaron Klug received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in part for his work on the development of crystallographic electron microscopy. Several years later, in 1986, Ernst Ruska received the Nobel Prize in Physics for designing the first electron microscope in the 1930s. He patented his electron microscope in the U.S. (US2268539) and several other countries in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Dr. Ruska shared the prize with Gerd Binning and Heinrich Rohrer who were recognized for their design of a scanning tunneling microscope, which they patented in the early 1980s in the U.S. (US4343993) and elsewhere.

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