Discoveries in medicine and biosciences are frequently stimulated by the invention of new scientific tools. One of these fascinating tools is fluorescence microscopy, today an integral part of life sciences. Our group develops both devices and probes that improve spatial and temporal resolution in multi-dimensional fluorescence imaging.
An ongoing probe-based approach addresses the much-discussed question of how protein binding is affected by not only photobleaching and photo-toxicity but also laser illumination itself. In recent studies we have shown that fluorescently labeled antibodies can be dissociated from their antigen by illumination with moderate laser intensities; the same photo-dissociation effect has been observed for protein-peptide binding, including toxins. We have succeeded in gaining insights into the mechanism of photounbinding and are currently working on biomedical applications.
Concerning devices, we are currently working on a novel microscope design that can provide both greater imaging speed and molecular resolution. In an interdisciplinary approach we combine high-resolution concepts of fluorescence microscopy with tricks from material sciences. Our approach involves designing and nanofabricating so-called metamaterials with negative refractive properties that can serve as modified microscope substrates for faster high- and superresolution imaging of biological surfaces. Suitable for live cell applications, this low-invasive approach offers the fascinating prospect of observing individual biomolecules in their native environment and understanding the underlying cellular process.