Two new microscopy techniques are helping scientists see smaller structures in living cells than ever glimpsed before.
Scientists can now view structures just 45 to 84 nanometers wide, Nobel prize-winning physicist Eric Betzig of the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute’s Janelia research campus in Ashburn, Va., and colleagues report in the Aug. 28 Science. The techniques beat the previous resolution of 100 nanometers and shatters the 250 nanometer “diffraction barrier,” imposed by the bending of light.
Using other tricks to improve the super-resolution methods also allowed the researchers to take ultraquick pictures with less cell-damaging light than before. As a result, scientists can watch sub-second interactions within cells, revealing new insights into how cells work.