Microscopy

A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy. Microscopic means invisible to the eye unless aided by a microscope.

There are many types of microscopes. The most common (and the first to be invented) is the optical microscope, which uses light to image the sample. Other major types of microscopes are the electron microscope (both the transmission electron microscope and the scanning electron microscope), the ultramicroscope, and the various types of scanning probe microscope.

  • A glimpse inside the atom: energy-filtered TEM at a subatomic level

    A glimpse inside the atom energy filtered TEM at a subatomic level | Atomic orbitals of carbon atoms in graphene Image: TU Wien

    Using electron microscopes, it is possible to image individual atoms. Scientists at TU Wien have calculated how it is possible to look even further inside the atom to image individual electron orbitals, using EFTEM (energy-filtered transmission electron microoscopy).

  • A signal boost for molecular microscopy

    A signal boost for molecular microscopy | Schematic illustration of the experiment. Graphic: MPQ, Laser Spectroscopy Division

    Cavity-enhanced Raman-scattering reveals information on structure and properties of carbon nanotubes. The inherently weak signals are amplified by using special micro cavities as resonator, giving a general boost to Raman spectroscopy as a whole.

  • Computers Made of Genetic Material? - ZDR researchers conduct electricity using DNA-based nanowires

    Scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf conducted electricity through DNA-based nanowires by placing gold-plated nanoparticles on them.

    Tinier than the AIDS virus – that is currently the circumference of the smallest transistors. The industry has shrunk the central elements of their computer chips to fourteen nanometers in the last sixty years. Conventional methods, however, are hitting physical boundaries. An alternative could be the self-organization of complex components from molecules and atoms. Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and Paderborn University have now made an important advance: the physicists conducted a current through gold-plated nanowires, which independently assembled themselves from single DNA strands. Their results have been published in the scientific journal Langmuir.

  • Greifswalder Forscher dringen mit superauflösendem Mikroskop in zellulären Mikrokosmos ein

    Die Professoren Nicole und Karlhans Endlich am neuen Superresolution-Mikroskop. Foto: Kilian Dorner

    Das Institut für Anatomie und Zellbiologie weiht am Montag, 05.12.2016, mit einem wissenschaftlichen Symposium das erste Superresolution-Mikroskop in Greifswald ein. Das Forschungsmikroskop wurde von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) und dem Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern finanziert. Nun können die Greifswalder Wissenschaftler Strukturen bis zu einer Größe von einigen Millionstel Millimetern mittels Laserlicht sichtbar machen.

  • Grenzen der optischen Mikroskopie überwinden

    Darstellung von gestreutem Licht. Copyright: Benjamin Judkewitz, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

    ERC Starting Grant für interdisziplinäres Charité-Labor. Die Technik der optischen Mikroskopie hat wesentlich zur Begründung der Neurowissenschaften beigetragen. Aus der Forschung ist sie kaum wegzudenken. Allerdings: Bis heute bleibt die mikroskopische Bildgebung in lebenden Organismen auf Tiefen von weniger als einem Millimeter begrenzt. Der Grund dafür ist die Lichtstreuung. Diese Grenze aufzuheben und lebendes Gewebe in tieferen Schichten, beispielsweise in der Hirnrinde, sichtbar zu machen, das hat sich die Forschergruppe um Prof. Dr. Benjamin Judkewitz vorgenommen. In den kommenden fünf Jahren stehen dem Labor nun 1,49 Millionen Euro des Europäischen Forschungsrates (ERC) zur Verfügung.

  • Meilenstein der Mikroskopie-Geschichte - SALVE-Projekt erfolgreich abgeschlossen

    Es ist über vier Meter hoch, tonnenschwer und seine Gerätschaften füllen einen ganzen Raum: Das bildfehlerkorrigierte Niederspannungs-Transmissionselektronenmikroskop bietet völlig neue Einblicke in die atomare Welt der Materie, und es ist das erste seiner Art. Mit dieser Neuentwicklung findet zugleich das siebenjährige SALVE-Projekt seinen erfolgreichen Abschluss. Das SALVE-Mikroskop erlaubt sogar Aufnahmen von elektronenstrahlempfindlichen Materialien und Biomolekülen.

  • Münster researchers make ongoing inflammation in the human brain visible

    Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have visualized inflammation in the brain of mice (l.) and of MS patients (r.). To do so, they labelled specific enzymes (MMPs). Reprinted with permission from Gerwien and Hermann et al., Sci. Transl. Med. 8, 364ra152 (2016) 9 November 2016

    For the first time, Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence (CiM) at Münster University have been able to image ongoing inflammation in the brain of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. The ultimate aim in biomedical research is the transfer of results from experiments carried out in animals to patients. Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence (CiM) at the University of Münster have succeeded in doing so. For the first time, they have been able to image ongoing inflammation in the brain of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). This involved specialists from different disciplines working together in a unique way over several years, combining immunology, neurology and imaging technologies ranging from microscopy to whole-body imaging.

  • Nanostructures Made of Pure Gold

    Nanostructure made of gold.

    It is the Philosopher’s Stone of Nanotechnology: using a technological trick, scientists at TU Wien (Vienna) have succeeded in creating nanostructures made of pure gold.The idea is reminiscent of the ancient alchemists’ attempts to create gold from worthless substances: Researchers from TU Wien (Vienna) have discovered a novel way to fabricate pure gold nanostructures using an additive direct-write lithography technique. An electron beam is used to turn an auriferous organic compound into pure gold. This new technique can now be used to create nanostructures, which are needed for many applications in electronics and sensor technology. Just like with a 3D-printer on the nanoscale, almost arbitrary shapes can be created.

  • Nanowires as Sensors in New Type of Atomic Force Microscope

    A nanowire sensor measures size and direction of forces. University of Basel, Department of Physics

    A new type of atomic force microscope (AFM) uses nanowires as tiny sensors. Unlike standard AFM, the device with a nanowire sensor enables measurements of both the size and direction of forces. Physicists at the University of Basel and at the EPF Lausanne have described these results in the recent issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

  • Neue Mikroskopie-Technik bringt Feinstrukturen des Lebens ans Licht

    links: Kryo-elektronenmikroskopische Aufnahme eines Filamentes (© Prof. Wirth, Universität Regensburg) rechts: daraus resultierende Struktur im hochaufgelösten 3D-Modell (© Forschungszentrum Jülich) links: © Prof. Wirth, Universität Regensburg. rechts: (© Forschungszentrum Jülich)

    Wissenschaftler aus Deutschland, Holland, Israel und den USA haben im Rahmen einer internationalen Zusammenarbeit erstmals die Ultrastruktur der so genannten Fibers des Archaeums „Ignicoccus hospitalis“, das bestimmt. Diese Zellanhänge dienen dem Archaeum zum Festsetzen an Oberflächen. Sehr ähnliche Zellanhänge werden von anderen Archaeen zur Fortbewegung genutzt. Damit ist nun die Ultrastruktur von Bewegungsorganellen aus allen drei Domänen des Lebens – Bakterien, Archaeen und Eukaryonten – bekannt.

  • Neue, offene Software für hochauflösende Mikroskopie

    Bielefelder Physiker berichten in „Nature Communications“ über ihre Neuentwicklung

  • Peptides as tags in fluorescence microscopy

    Synapses of brain cells made visible using fluorescence tagging based on antibodies: pre-synapses (red) and post-synapses (green) appear out of focus; the synaptic cleft is not fully resolved. (Picture: Franziska Neubert & Sören Doose)

    Advance in biomedical imaging: The Biocenter of the University of Würzburg in close collaboration with the University of Copenhagen has developed an alternative approach to fluorescent tagging of proteins. The new probes are practicable and compatible with high-resolution microscopic procedures. Fluorescence microscopy visualizes the molecular elements of cells. Proteins of nerve cells, for instance, can be labelled using probes which are subsequently excited with light to fluoresce. In the end, the fluorescence signal is used to generate microscopic images of the real position, arrangement and number of proteins.

  • Physiker beobachten weltweit erstmals, wie Nano-Goldpartikel durch Zellmembranen wandern

    Lipidbeschichtete, hydrophobe Gold-Nanopartikel durchqueren eine Doppellage, die als künstliche Zellmembran angesehen werden kann. Grafik: Vladimir Baulin

    Die OECD berichtete jüngst (Link s.u.), dass Nanopartikel in mehr als 1300 kommerziellen Produkten enthalten sind, deren potenziell toxische Wirkung ausgeblendet wird. Die Mechanismen, wie diese Partikel durch menschliches Gewebe wandern, sind noch weitestgehend unverstanden. Ein Team aus spanischen und saarländischen Physikern konnte nun weltweit erstmals in Echtzeit beobachten, wie eine bestimmte Art von Nanopartikeln durch eine künstliche Zellwand wandert. Damit haben sie den Grundstein für weitere Forschungen gelegt, die im sicheren Umgang mit den winzigen Teilchen helfen sollen. Die Studie ist am 2. November in der Fachzeitschrift Science Advances erschienen.

  • Researchers image roots in the ground

    Maximilian Weigand (left) and Prof. Dr. Andreas Kemna of the University of Bonn use electrical impedance tomography to visualize the root activity of plants. © Photo: Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

    It's a familiar hazard of vacation time: While you're conspicuously absent, your colleagues in the office forget to water and fertilize the plants – often leaving behind nothing but a brownish skeleton. Whether a plant thrives or wastes away depends above all on whether its roots get enough water and nutrients. Geophysicists at the University of Bonn have now visualized such processes for the first time using electrical impedance tomography. The researchers have now published their results in the scientific journal "Biogeosciences".

  • Ultrafast slow-motion microscope sees a single molecule vibrate

    Single pentacen molecules vibrate on a gold surface. Foto: Dominik Peller

    An international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has now recorded the ultrafast motion of a single molecule directly in time and space by combining a femtosecond laser with an atomic resolution microscope. Atoms and molecules are the constituents of virtually all matter that surrounds us. Interacting with each other while following the rules of nature, they form complex systems ranging from modern technology to living creatures. Their behavior, that is, what they actually do, basically determines all of natural and life sciences. They are so small, however, that we cannot observe them in daily life.

  • Viewing a catalytic reaction in action

    An international team of researchers monitors the steps of a chemical reaction mediated by a metallic surface