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Nano2Fun proudly share the joy of the Laureates of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry-2014

“For me it was always important to have fun in science”

From the interview with Stefan Hell,
the inventor of STED microscopy,
Nobel laureate in chemistry

This year, on the eve of the International Year of Light, world’s prestigious prize in chemistry was awarded for “the development of super-resolution fluorescence microscopy” . It was found in 1873 by Ernst Abbe that the resolution of optical microscope is limited by the wave nature of light - because of diffraction at the microscope’s aperture sample features less than 200 nm cannot be distinguished. But nowadays, thanks to efforts of Eric Betzig, Stefan Hell and William Moerner diffraction barrier in far-field optical microscopy has been overcome.

Two different techniques extended far-field microscopy to nanoscopy - 2/3 of the Nobel prize was awarded to Eric Betzig and William Moerner for the development of single-molecule microscopy and 1/3 of the Prize was awarded to Stefan Hell for inventing stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy.

STED is a technique that reduces the size of a fluorescent region excited by diffraction-limited scanning laser spot by optical de-excitation of the fluorophores with doughnut-shaped depletion beam, and hence allowing imaging with nanoscale resolution without collecting multiple images of a sample. It should be mentioned, that the depletion of the excited state of a fluorophore is not restricted to the stimulated emission, but any process allowing spatially modulated excited state depletion could be utilized.

Superresolution fluorescence microscopy, or, more precisely, the STED counterpart of two-photon microscopy (2PM) , is one of the main research topics in Nano2Fun team. That imaging technique merges the advantages of STED and 2PM microscopy, significantly improving the resolution of 2PM. Another technique of interest of Nano2Fun project is STED-enhanced two-photon photopolymerization. Here the physical principle is the same: depletion beam is deactivating photoinitiators in an outer region of the excitation area, thus tightening the volume (voxel) where photopolymerization reaction takes place, so structures with features down to 80 nm could be created.

Although STED technique is well-established nowadays, and STED instruments are commercially available, the set of suitable dyes and photoinitiators is very restricted, compared with conventional microscopy. But since there is no resolution limit of STED, because it depends only on the applied depletion beam intensity and photophysical properties of the dye (high quantum yield, photostability, high STED cross-sections, etc.), the development of appropriate fluorescent probes and photoinitiators is of crucial importance in further developing superresolution microscopy and photopolymerization to their functional application in bioimaging and nanofabrication.

Nano2Fun network is very proud that superresolution microscopy technique has gained recognition at the highest level, boosting research and innovation in many areas. That Nobel Award is a perfect motivation for the further development of optical microscopy methods and application. All researches working on STED or SM are co-winners of this prize and Nano2Fun is very happy to be among them.

As a postscriptum some pieces of advice from Nobel Laureates to young people:

“My best advice to young students is to think out of the box”

“In the end one has to boil down everything to very essential
things to understand it and to synthesize it.
Only then we can make fundamental inventions”

From the interview with Stefan Hell,
the inventor of STED microscopy,
Nobel laureate in chemistry

“My advice to young people would be: 'don’t jump on the
bandwagon that already exists but to build your own
bandwagon. Try to find an opportunity in something that is
overlooked,..,and then try to curve your own path."

From the interview with Eric Betzig,
the inventor of single-molecule microscopy,
Nobel laureate in chemistry

Second Project Meeting and Training Day - Report

The poet John Donne used to say “No man is an island”. We can apply this concept also to science: no one can advance in his research as an individual; everybody needs to tackle with other people eventually. This idea formed the basis of the Second Project Meeting of the Nano2fun project, that took place in Antwerp on 18-19 September and during which the early stage researchers presented the first results deriving from their efforts to their colleagues. They had the chance of conferring with each other for helping the development of new ideas and also of discussing with expert scientists about the future prospect of their research. During the meeting, the early stage researchers also participated in the Training Day 2, “Photophysics & Nonlinear Spectroscopy”, which led them to the discovery of the fascinating world of Nonlinear Optics through the lectures of experts in the field. The students had the privilege of learning about techniques such as Z-Scan, Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED, the technique that recently led its developer, Stefan W. Hell, to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry) and Hyper-Rayleigh Scattering (HRS).

The morning session of the Training Day opened with the touching words of those who had the pleasure of working with Prof. Olga V. Przhonska, one of the first Nano2fun associates, who unfortunately passed away recently. Those words also remark how cooperation between the partners is the building block of the project: it is not merely about collaboration between scientists but between people.

The meeting also offered the participants the chance of getting in touch with the culture, cuisine and history of the little precious gem of Belgium, Antwerp. The forthcoming meetings (one every six months) will also give them the opportunity of visiting and discovering the other countries involved in the Nano2fun project: India, England, Germany, France, Spain, Italy… What is clear by the end of this Second Meeting is indeed that cooperation between all this different countries is the essential and precious tool that allows the Nano2fun project and all the involved people to improve and progress.

An unexpected meeting and the sense of joy!

Hello All, here I am with my first blog post in our Nano2Fun Blog! Since we pledged (in our minds) for a little out of the scientific discussions, I will share a very recent experience of mine from my present address in Parma. 
Well, I had a small accident in here and was down with a huge cast on my leg for almost 20 days. My first vacation abroad was nearing and I was restless with the plaster on my foot and so asked for an advanced date for removing it. Early morning I went with my friends here, Domna and Miltos, to the hospital very happy to remove the cast and took the slip to wait for my turn. A man came and asked for me, so my friend stood up to accompany me as I still don't speak proper Italian. But the man told no need! I was apprehensive as to what will I understand or reply....went inside and he asked me where I am from. I replied, India! He smiled and asked, "Are you a Punjabi?" (Punjab is a province in the northern part of India and people from there are the Punjabis), I replied, "no, I am a Bengali." West Bengal, with it's capital city of Calcutta or Kolkata lies to the eastern region of India and we are called Bengalis. I belong to this particular community in India.

He smiled and his next words left me awestruck. He asked me in Bengali, "Bari kothaye?" ("Where is your home?") and I was dumbstruck, couldn't believe my ears, was I hearing correctly?! Remind you, this man was a pure Italian citizen and in no way a Bengali. He was talking to me, half bengali and half Italian (no English words at all) and I felt like I am dreaming or there must have been some problem with my head while I was down with a problem in my leg. I couldn't believe what I was hearing was right. No, it wasn't because it is any tough language or why will I hear any European speaking my native Indian language, it was a feeling of pleasure and happiness, hearing someone so far away from home speaking your mother tongue. Half of the things he spoke of I couldn't understand well, because I was dazed for sometime :) 
What I could understand was the fact that he had been in Bangladesh, the neighbouring country of India and sharing her political border with West Bengal, for around 6-7 months and was sent for the health and hygiene conditions in the country. He knew of many places and also of my city, Kolkata. 
When I came out after removing the plaster and told my friends I spoke to him in Bengali, they of course couldn't believe initially and then saw him speaking again. They were equally awestruck!

Well, miles away from home, it was a very pleasant surprise for me on a late July morning. :)

International Year of Light 2015

Hello everybody!

As January 2015 is approaching (yes you're quickly getting older!) we should spread some information about IYL2015. Nano2Fun will definitely be part of this while thinking about the activities to organize, all of us should better know what IYL2015 is and why it is important!

Check these links out