The Institute of Photonic Sciences


Center of Excellence in STORM
Super-resolution imaging

ICFO hosts a world class Super-resolution Light Microscopy & Nanoscopy (SLN) Facility. The SLN at ICFO is equipped with front-end microscopy techniques that are able to operate a step beyond the commercial state of the art. ICFO performs continuous R&D in most of the advanced light microscopy techniques and provide access and training to all types of users in the forefront of microscopy for the most demanding biomedical applications. Available techniques are Multiphoton (TPEF, THG, SHG), Fluorescence (Confocal, Multispectral Confocal, FLIM, FRET), Optical Tweezers and Femtosecond nanosurgery , Photoactivation (STORM), Nanoscopy (STED), Single Molecule Techniques, Near-Field Nano-Imaging, Plasmonics and Nanoantennas, Raman and SERS, Diffuse Optical Imaging, Photothermal Imaging, Ultrafast (ps and fs) Dynamics.

The Nikon Center of excellence for STORM imaging at ICFO represents a key addition to push ICFO’s super-resolution capabilities.

Optical light microscopy has now entered a new era of super-resolution with the development of technologies that overcome the resolution limit of traditional light microscopes. Ideal for a variety of disciplines within the biological sciences, these new technologies enable the study of cell structure at the nanoscale – revealing cellular features previously impossible to see. While nanoscale imaging has been possible for many years using electron microscopy methods, the new super-resolution optical technologies enable 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional imaging of fixed and / or living specimens.

STORM achieves a remarkable lateral resolution of approximately 20nm and axial resolution of approximately 50nm in fixed specimens. STORM, was developed in the laboratory of Dr. Xiaowei Zhuang, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Professor of Physics at Harvard University, and distinguished member of ICFO’s scientific advisory board. STORM uses photo-switchable fluorescent probes to temporally separate the otherwise spatially overlapping images of individual molecules, allowing the construction of superresolution images. Using this concept, two- and three-dimensional, multicolour fluorescence images of molecular complexes, cells and tissues with a few tens of nanometers resolution have been achieved. This new form of fluorescence microscopy allows molecular interactions in cells and cell-cell interactions in tissues to be imaged at the nanometer scale.