Division of Optical Nanoscopy

Prof. Dr. Stefan W. Hell

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We congratulate Professor Stefan W. Hell on having been awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry!

Further information here:

The resolution of light microscopes has been generally limited by the wavelength of light to about 250 nanometers. We have developed the first fluorescence microscopes capable of providing images with a resolution of fractions of light’s wavelength from the interior of a cell. A combination of two of our approaches, namely 4Pi and STED microscopy, makes it possible to achieve resolutions under 40 nanometers in all directions. This enables us to observe biological structures that are 2000 times thinner than a human hair. We are now trying to find out how we can achieve and exploit resolutions in the range of a few nanometers to fundamentally advance biological and clinical research.

Our goal is to develop techniques such as STED (Stimulated Emission Depletion Microscopy) to unveil sub-cellular structures at a resolution level of a few 10?nm in a living cell. After all, every disease manifests itself first in the cells. We are now exploring how the breakthrough in light microscopy resolution can be translated into fundamental advancements in biological and clinical research. STED light microscopy makes it possible to study the causes of diseases more closely and thus to speed up development of medications.


Prof. Dr. Stefan W. Hell
Optical Nanoscopy (E190)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 (0)6221 5451210

Selected Publications

  • Chojnacki J. et al. (2012). Maturation-Dependent HIV-1 Surface Protein Redistribution Revealed by Fluorescence Nanoscopy. Science, (in press)
  • Hoyer P. et al. (2016). Breaking the diffraction limit of light-sheet fluorescence microscopy by RESOLFT. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 113(13), 3442-3446.
  • Schneider J. et al. (2015). Ultrafast, temporally stochastic STED nanoscopy of millisecond dynamics. Nat Methods, 12(9), 827-830.
  • Berning S. et al. (2012). Nanoscopy in a living mouse brain. Science, 335, 551
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