Physicist Decides to Build Own Microscope inSTED
DENVER, July 26, 2011 — Physicist Stephanie Meyer is bringing new capabilities to the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus by building an advanced, superresolution microscope that can see some of the innermost workings of neurons and other cells.
Meyer and her colleagues decided to build their own stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscope after a review of a commercial microscope made it clear that they required a different design. Meyer, who earned her doctorate at the university’s Boulder campus and interned at Carl Zeiss GmbH, began work on the microscope in May.
“We want to get better resolution because a lot of biology happens on a smaller scale,” Meyer said. “For example, we want to see which proteins are congregating together.”
Electron microscopes also can reach high levels of resolution, but unlike when using STED microscopy, the cells must be dead first. The advantage of examining live cells at higher resolution is that extremely small parts and processes can be seen. This includes being able to see how proteins interact, which can lead to discoveries about the inner workings of cells. Also, samples do not need to be as thinly sliced with STED as with electron microscopy.
STED microscopes use lasers to achieve subdiffraction-limited resolution. Currently, Meyer is getting ready to add lasers into the microscope body. Exactly when the device will be finished is unknown, but given the complexity of the project, it will likely take months. As daunting as it appears, Meyer remains unfazed by the task.
“Once you build one microscope and then another, it becomes second nature to you,” she said. “This will be a wonderful tool for us and is just another example of how far microscopy has come.”
For more information, visit: www.ucdenver.edu
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