The 2014 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded early today to two American and one German scientists for their work in designing microscopes to look inside living cells. Americans Eric Betzig and William Moerner joined Germany's Stefan Hell for the honor for their use of flourescence to take microscopes to a new level.
Their research perfected optical microscopes, which use visible light and do not damage the subject. Traditional electron microscopes can't be used on living organisms.
“Due to their achievements, the optical microscope can now peer into the nanoworld,” the Nobel academy said. “Today, nanoscopy is used worldwide and new knowledge of greatest benefit to mankind is produced on a daily basis.”
News of the award caught Mr. Hell in Germany by surprise.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said, adding that his initial work was met with skepticism. “The scientific community wasn’t very receptive to the idea. It was kind of crazy.”