Using physical chemistry methods to look at biology at the nanoscale, a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researcher invented a new technology to image single molecules with unprecedented spectral and spatial resolution, thus leading to the first “true-color” super-resolution microscope. The innovation is called SR-STORM, or spectrally resolved stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy. Because SR-STORM gives full spectral and spatial information for each molecule, the technology opens the door to high-resolution imaging of multiple components and local chemical environments, such as pH variations, inside a cell.
Using the method, scientists can see interactions among four biological components inside a cell in three dimensions at a resolution of about 10 nanometers. This provides new opportunities to look at cell structures, how they’re built up, and whether there’s any degradation of those structures in diseases.