Project Description

STORM: Dr Zhuang Breaks the Diffraction Barrier

Xiaowei Zhuang, PhD

Xiaowei Zhuang, PhD is Director, Center for Advanced Imaging at Harvard University, and David B. Arnold Jr Professor of Science, Harvard University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Dr Zhuang has invented many microscopy techniques, including STORM, a method of seeing molecular details of the brain that were previously impossible to see.  The Zhuang research lab works on the forefront of single-molecule biology and bio-imaging, developing and applying advanced optical imaging techniques to study the behavior of individual biological molecules and molecular assemblies in vitro and in live cells. Researchers in this lab apply their diverse backgrounds in chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering to develop new imaging probes and methods and apply these tools to study a variety of interesting biological systems.

STORM Image 009
STORM Image

Nanoscale Imaging

In 2006, Dr Zhuang, invented STORM, a super-resolution light microscopy method. The technology allows fluorescent probes to separate the regions of individual molecules that overlap so that the positions of the molecules can be more clearly determined. STORM has allowed Zhuang’s research group, and others, to create three-dimensional fluorescence images of cells and tissues. It is among the most advanced microscopy technologies in the scientific community today. Her research group is currently working on developing imaging capabilities for deep tissues of live animals.

With the remarkable power of STORM microscopy, Dr Zhuang’s lab has actually discovered previously unknown structures inside the axons of neurons.  This article describes this discovery.

Nikon Corporation acquired the license for STORM super resolution microscopy from Harvard University, in order to commercialize the N-STORM microscope.  Read about this here.

In the images displayed to the left, you can perceive the significant difference in resolution between the STORM images and preceding technologies.

Super-Resolution Microscopy

This lecture surveys a variety of recent methods that achieve higher resolution than is possible with conventional microscopy with diffraction-limited optics. These include different types of patterned illumination (e.g. STED and SIM microscopy) or techniques that build up an image by stochastically switching on single fluorescent molecules and localizing each molecule with high spatial precision (STORM, PALM, FPALM).