Hell, Stefan Walter

Hell, Stefan Walter, 1962–, German physicist, Ph.D. Heidelberg Univ., 1990. Hell worked at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg (1991–93) and at the Univ. of Turku in Finland (1993–96). Since 1997 he has been with the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. Hell received the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Eric Betzig and William Moerner for their contributions to the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. Their work circumvented a fundamental barrier to optical microscopy known as the diffraction limit by using various techniques involving fluorescence to improve the resolution. Hell developed stimulated-emission depleted microscopy. He discovered that, with the use of lasers, he could both stimulate fluorescent molecules and quench the resulting fluorescence in a way that restricted the glow to a very small section. The many very small, partial images produced in a sequential scan of an organism using this technique are combined to produce a complete image with great resolution, allowing the biology of living organisms to be studied at the smallest scales. Hell has used the technique it to study how brain synapses work.

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