Berkeley Lab

Multimodal In-situ Methods at the Materials Interface

By Elyse Schriber

The symposia at the Molecular Foundry user meetings are always a fantastic way to end the user meeting as we get introduced to these large scale broad topics during the plenary sessions and then get an opportunity to focus on individual fields of interest. During the Multimodal In-situ Methods at the Materials Interface symposium, there was a variety of characterization and imaging techniques discussed by speakers that literally spanned the electromagnetic spectrum in some instances. My research places me solely in the land of X-rays, so I spend most of my time with small wavelengths. It’s hard to imagine using optical light to track something as small as say, an individual protein, without tagging it with some sort of fluorescent label. One of the speakers, Philipp Kukura, from Oxford introduced the first label free all optical detection and imaging of a single protein. I was amazed at the live imaging data they were able to collect, especially in comparison to cryo-electron microscopy images of the same macromolecule. The Where’s Waldo analogy that he used to describe the methods they employed to image this single protein really hit home as to what we are always trying to attain when characterizing at the nano- and microscale.