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Nobel Prize Honors Blue LEDs and Nanoscopy

Nobel medallion
Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Recently announced Nobel prizes recognize engineering contributions in the fields of physics and chemistry. The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to professors Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura who developed blue light emitting diodes in the early 1990s. Environmentally-friendly blue LEDs have paved the way for such technologies as colored LED screens and energy-efficient white lamps. Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy, or nanoscopy. Nanoscopy allows researchers to visualize individual molecules within cells at the nano level. This technology enables life scientists to track proteins involved in Alzheimer's or observe proteins in fertilized eggs as these divide into embryos. Hell developed the emission depletion (STED) microscopy method which uses laser beams to make fluorescent molecules glow, enhancing their resolution. Betzing and Moerner developed the single-molecule microscopy technique enabling individual molecules' fluorescence to be turned on and off. Images of these molecules can then be superimposed to create nanoscale resolution. Both blue LEDs and nanoscopy are recognized as having made significant contributions to humankind.  

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