Award for high-resolution microscopy method
Science Prize of the Beutenberg Campus Jena e. V. goes to team from Leibniz-HKI and University of Jena
An interdisciplinary collaboration between several research institutes was honored with the Science Award of the Beutenberg Campus Jena e. V. on 15.11.2023. The prize, which was awarded for the first time in the category "Excellent Interdisciplinary Cooperation", went to Dr. Falk Hillmann from the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology - Hans Knöll Institute (HKI) and the team led by Prof. Dr. Jens Limpert, Dr. Jan Rothhardt and Prof. Dr. Thomas Pertsch from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Jena. The researchers have developed a novel microscopy method that provides insights into the nanoworld of microorganisms in the extreme ultraviolet light spectrum. The prize is endowed with 1,000 euros.
One area of application for the new method could be infection research. In order to develop targeted cures for infectious diseases, it is necessary to know as precisely as possible about the developmental stages of pathogens and their interaction with infected cells. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light with a very short wavelength is particularly suitable for this, as it allows microscopy with a very high resolution (less than 20 nanometers).
Nanostructures increase the resolution
The innovative EUV microscope is based on so-called ptychography, a special form of computer-assisted, lensless imaging. The microscope uses structured EUV illumination for this purpose. This means that the radiation with which the sample is illuminated is shaped by a special mask and thus projects certain structures in the nanometer range, such as patterns or lines, onto the biological sample. The EUV masks consist of thin metal foil that is structured using a focused ion beam.
By combining the nanostructured masks, the EUV light source and the novel EUV microscope, the Jena team was able to achieve a record resolution of 16 nanometers. In particular, the researchers examined seedlings of the fungus Aspergillus nidulans and Escherichia coli bacteria and were able to visualize the tip body of the fungus as well as identify the chemical composition of the bacterial cell wall at different stages of cell division.
Jan Rothhardt, Dr. habil.
Junior research group leader
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