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2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Recipient to Present at Pittcon

W. E. Moerner, to deliver Wallace H. Coulter Lecture at Pittcon 2016

by Pittcon
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July 22, 2015. Pittsburgh, PA. The Pittcon 2016 Program Committee is extremely pleased to announce that W. E. (William Esco) Moerner, the Harry S. Mosher Professor of Chemistry and Professor, by courtesy, of Applied Physics at Stanford University will present the Wallace H. Coulter Lecture“How Optical Single-Molecule Detection in Solids Led to Super-Resolution Nanoscopy in Cells and Beyond.”

W. E. MoernerW. E. MoernerPhoto courtesy of PittconDr. Moerner’s lecture will focus on his research in physical chemistry and chemical physics of single molecules, single-molecule biophysics, super-resolution imaging and tracking in cells, and trapping of single molecules in solution.

His interests span methods of precise quantitation of single molecule properties, to strategies for three-dimensional imaging and tracking of single molecules, to applications of single-molecule measurements to understand biological processes in cells, to observations of the photodynamics of single photosynthetic proteins and enzymes.

 He has been elected Fellow/Member of the NAS, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, AAAS, ACS, APS, and OSA. Major awards include the Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy, the Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics, the Pittsburgh Spectroscopy Award, the Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, and the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

 When asked to comment on his work, Dr. Moerner stated, “More than 25 years ago, single molecules were first detected optically in the Moerner lab at IBM Research in the course of explorations of fundamental limits on optical storage. Far from being only an esoteric effect at low temperatures, the attainment of this ultimate limit of sensitivity led to the ability to detect single molecules in solution, solids, crystals, and even cells; moreover, it became possible to control the single molecules as well. Single emitting molecules are like tiny light sources which can used to light up an extended structure when combined with a way to control the concentration of molecules that are “on” at a given moment.”

The end result is that this strategy has recently enabled “super-resolution” imaging through the work of Eric Betzig and others, which overcomes the resolution limit imposed by the wavelength of light of about ~200 nm in the visible.

He added, “Now it is possible to record detail all the way down to 10’s of nm and below. Essentially, images which were once fundamentally blurry and out of focus are now sharp so that structures which could not be observed before are now visible. This has led to many advances in cell biology and microscopy by allowing structures and behavior to be seen for the first time, both in normal and in diseased cells. 

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