A Cheaper Super-Resolution Microscope

  • Author: ChemPhysChem
  • Published Date: 07 November 2018
  • Source / Publisher: ChemPhysChem/Wiley-VCH
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
thumbnail image: A Cheaper Super-Resolution Microscope

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Fluorescence microscopes are valuable tools in biological research. They allow scientists to visualize individual cells and their inner structure at super-high resolutions—below the diffraction limit of "normal" optical microscopes. However, along with the improvements in resolution, such microscopes have become more complex and expensive. This limits the application of super-resolution methods in many laboratories.

Ralf Jungmann and colleagues, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany, have developed a cost-efficient and high-performing 3D super‐resolution microscopy platform that is easy to replicate and use. The system is called liteTIRF and is an order of magnitude cheaper than most commercial instruments.

The team used standard off‐the‐shelf components to keep costs low. They focused on a compact and robust design that avoids the need for particularly expensive stabilization and calibration methods. In contrast to other cost‐effective setups, the developed system includes the possibility to operate the microscope in Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) mode, which improves the visualization of surface-bound fluorophores.

The team used the microscope with a recently developed super-resolution technique called DNA-PAINT (DNA points accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography). They tested the system's performance using synthetic DNA origami structures and achieved sub-10-nm resolutions. They also demonstrated that the liteTIRF microscope can be used for single- and multiplexed cellular imaging.

The researchers believe that thanks to its modular and easy-to-replicate design, the developed system could serve as a basis for do-it-yourself modifications and provide an attractive entry point for exploring super-resolution microscopy.


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