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Imaging Life at High Spatiotemporal Resolution

As our understanding of biological systems has increased, so has the complexity of our questions and the need for more advanced optical tools to answer them. For example, there is a hundred-fold gap between the resolution of conventional optical microscopy and the scale at which molecules self-assemble. Furthermore, as we attempt to peer more closely at the dynamics of living systems, the actinic glare of our microscopes can adversely influence or even kill the specimens we hope to study. Finally, the optical heterogeneity of organelles and specialized cell types in tissues can seriously impede our ability to image at high resolution, due to the resulting warping and scattering of light rays. I will describe three technologies that address these challenges: superresolution microscopy for imaging specific proteins within cells down to near-molecular resolution; plane illumination microscopy using non-diffracting beams for noninvasive imaging of 3D dynamics within live cells and embryos; and adaptive optics to recover optimal images from within optically heterogeneous specimens.


robert.mcmichael [at] (Robert McMichael), 301-975-5121

Eric Betzig

Janelia Farm Research Campus, HHMI

Created April 10, 2014, Updated May 13, 2016