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Blog: Nobel Prize in Chemistry

American scientists Eric Betzig and William Moerner and German scientist Stefan Hell share the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. Here's a chronical summary of the day.

Bildkombo William E. Moerner, Stefan W. Hell, Eric Betzig (vlnr) Nobelpreis 2014 Chemie

From left to right: William Moerner, Stefan Hell and Eric Betzig

That's it - after three exciting days it's time to close our nobel blog. Thank you for following us and keep coming back to out Sci-Tech page. There's more stuff to come!


This video was made available ​​today by BAYER. It explains how the fluorescence microscopy works and why the work of the Nobel Laureates is so important.


One of our favorite quotes today about William Moerner (from his colleague and friend Michael Boersch, physical chemist at the University of Jena):

"Our W.E. is just so normal. What distinguishes him from my point of view is that he is wide awake and takes care of all of his students. He asks the right questions. And he's not the kind of a manager, who only comes in once a week. "


Here at the office, we've been discussing why physicists get the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Stefan Hell is a physicist, Eric Betzig is a physicist and William Moerner is a physicist (and chemist). The boundaries between the sciences seem to be disappearing.


Stefan W. Hell (Foto: Swen Pförtner/dpa)

Congratulations, Stefan Hell! This champagn is well-earned!

Stefan Hell says he was "totally surprised" when he found out he had won the prize, while co-winner Eric Betzig says he was stunned by the news.

"I have been walking around in a daze for the last hour, on a nice day in Munich, fearful that my life has changed," Betzig told Reuters by phone from the Bavarian capital, where he was scheduled to give a lecture on Wednesday.

But he still managed to go through with the lecture, he said. And it was no doubt very well attended ...


This is what cells look like under a fluorescence microscope. Hell, Betzig and Moerner revolutionized microscopy to develop this technique.

Endothelial cells under a fluorescence microscope (Foto: Free)

Endothelial cells under a fluorescence microscope

And here's a great video about fluorescence microscopy:


Some facts about the Nobel Laureates:

Eric Betzig:

  • born in 1960
  • heads a research group at the Janelia Farm Research Campus (Howard Huges Medical Institute)

William Esco Moerner:

  • born in 1953
  • known as W. E. Moerner
  • grew up in Texas (which explains, he says, why his first names are often abbreviated to initials)
  • a physical chemist and chemical physicist at Stanford University
  • Moerner is credited with achieving the first optical detection and spectroscopy of a single molecule in condensed phases, along with his postdoc, Lothar Kador
  • as of 16 May 2014, Moerner's full CV lists 386 publications

Stefan Hell:

  • born in 1962 in Romania
  • a German physicist
  • one of the directors of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany
  • received the 10th German Innovation Award (Deutscher Zukunftspreis) in 2006

Even the German Foreign Office has congratulated Hell:


Here's Eric Betzig speaking in Singapore in 2012: "I'd like to give my talk on a personal level, so you can see at least how science is done by a guy like myself who doesn't consider himself a scientist at all."


The three researchers received the award for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. Their work allows scientists to bypass the limits of "traditional" microscopes and better understand individual molecules inside living cells.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences says the work of the three scientists "has brought optical microscopy into the nanodimension."


The lucky Nobel Laureates. Congratulations!


It's getting serious! You can either watch the live stream or follow our blog for news. We will keep you up to date as soon as the announcement is made.


Not long now before we know who the winner is of this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Get in the mood with some of the world's best-known Nobel Laureates: