Breaking the difraction barrier


In this pseudocolored image by Gemma Perez from the UPF, we can observe the improvement in resolution of Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) microscopy (right), compared with confocal microscopy (left).

STED is one of the recently developed super-resolution methods that have broken the diffraction limit in light microscopy, and the CRG/UPF Advanced Light Microscopy Unit has one of the only two STED systems currently available in Spain.

The dots in the image show the distribution of PatL1, a component of Processing Bodies (PB), dynamic cytoplasmatic granules that are conserved among eukaryotes. PBs are too small and sometimes are in too close vicinity to be properly rendered by confocal imaging, which has a maximal resolution of 200 nm. In contrast, STED microscopy, capable of resolving distances of <80 nm, can show more details of their sizes and distribution (bar= 1 µm).