Optical Microscopy

Group Leader: Bert Nitzsche

Portrait Bert Nitzsche

Our Research Mission

Optical microscopy is the most commonly used method in biology and biophysics and at the same time comprises a range of very diverse techniques. On the one hand, recent advances in imaging technology have opened a wealth of possibilities to get access to increasingly detailed and accurate information while better preserving the integrity of the biological specimen. On the other hand, the exact same wealth of possibilities poses challenges which have to be addressed:

  1. Huge amounts of data (up to Terabytes for individual experiments) are generated in multi-dimensional data sets acquired at high spatial and temporal resolution over long periods of time.
  2. Demanding applications require specific imaging modalities and setups.
  3. On the fly data evaluation used for automated feedback on the imaging protocol is adding further layers of complexity.
  4. Sample perturbation/manipulation techniques need to be integrated in a way that is minimally interfering with image acquisition.

Consequently, it is crucial to consider the entire workflow including data acquisition, sample perturbation/manipulation, and data processing when setting up instrumentation and planning experiments. We approach this by starting from the scientific question, thus considering the type and amount of data required. From this we conclude the optimal choice of instrumentation and workflow. Thereby, we want to assure two things:

  1. Processing, handling and storage of data are considered already at the beginning of the project. We aim to achieve this also by close collaboration with our partners from PoL BiA.
  2. Workflows and instrumentation can be customized where necessary and useful. This can be achieved by either using a commercial system, a home-built solution or something in between.

We support users of our instruments by

  1. providing and maintaining a suitable mix of standard as well as custom-built/modified instruments for state-of-the-art optical imaging and perturbation/manipulation experiments,
  2. assisting in workflow design, starting with the scientific question and deriving requirements for data flow and instrumentation,
  3. teaching theory and practical usage of specific instruments to enable usage of our equipment to its full potential.

Optical microscopy and nanoscopy is developing rapidly. We are convinced that collaboration is essential to keep up with all recent developments. As such we are part of the Biopolis Dresden Imaging Platform (BioDIP) network of imaging core facilities and care for vivid exchange about latest technologies and practical matters of optical imaging. If we do not have a certain technique or expertise in-house there is a good chance that you still get access through our network.