CHEM 5430

CHEM 5430

Nanoscale Imaging of Complex Systems in Chemistry and Biology
Spring semester

Prof. Andreas Gahlmann

Imagine you are an atom. How big is a molecule to you? How big is a protein? About 30 times your size, maybe? Now, imagine you are a molecule. Then, the interior of a cell, at 1000-10’000 times your size, would seem absolutely huge. From atoms in molecules to molecules in cells, much of our present understanding of nature at these length scales has been made possible by high-resolution imaging experiments.

For hundreds of years, scientists and engineers have developed a variety of ever more powerful microscopes which can now access the nanometer length scales and thereby reveal an unprecedented amount of information about the specimens. These instruments are revolutionizing our understanding of the world around us. At the same time, the field of microscopy-based research is still very active and, as you read this, new technological innovations are being made in all areas of instrument design, sample preparation, and computational image analysis.

If imaging at the nanoscale kindles your imagination and you seek to become a competent and independent scientist, this course will help you on your journey. In the first half of the class, you will learn to integrate and apply your knowledge of biology, chemistry and physics to more fully understand how complex microscopes function. This skill will then allow you to think creatively about addressing current scientific problems related to high-resolution imaging in the second half of class.

Specific objectives

  • understand the anatomy of different types of microscopes.
  • explain the physical principles of how different types of images are formed.
  • use computational tools to process and analyze images.
  • explain the capabilities and limitations of different types of microscopes.
  • critically evaluate image data in the scientific literature.

think creatively about designing new microscopy experiments that shed light into the unknown.