PhD defence: Bringing optical nanoscopy to life – Super-resolution microscopy of living cells
Dr. Ida S. Opstad of UiT The Arctic University of Norway recently defended her doctoral theses successfully. She has explored a new type of optical microscopy that can achieve a resolution beyond conventional limits together with its potential for studying living cells.
Optical microscopy is a fantastic tool for peeking into the secret lives of living cells. Cells are the fundamental units of life and constitute all living organisms. The billions of animal cells that build our bodies have an average size of about 10 µm (10-6m) in diameter and are impossible to discern with our eyes alone.
Using normal light microscopy, one can look at cells alive and maybe even recognize that they contain a lot of stuff, but it is impossible to discern the fine structural details or exactly how the different stuff interacts. This is because of how light diffracts and forms images when passing through an aperture like the objective lens needed to collect signal from the sample to form magnified images. The fundamental limit of resolution in optical microscopy is known as the Abbe diffraction limit. It depends on the wavelength of light and how well the objective lens captures light; in practice limited to about 250 nm.
In her doctoral theses, Dr. Opstad explored a new type of optical microscopy that can achieve a resolution beyond conventional limits together with its potential for studying living cells. Challenges involved when applying these techniques to dynamic living cells include the acquisition time, light dose, and toxicity of fluorescent labels.