A large part of our activities is devoted to ultra high resolution optical microscopy. Here we have worked on several projects that have aimed at understanding various aspects of Scanning Near-field Optical Microscopy (SNOM). Other projects have concentrated on developing new methods to push this young technique to its theoretical limits of resolution. Furthermore, we have performed experiments that combine spectral information in far-field fluorescence microscopy with scanning probe machinary to localize single molecules in a sample to a very small fraction of the wavelength.
Another very active line of research in our group is the optics of single nanoparticles and single molecules. In some cases a single molecule or nanoparticle is the subject of study itself, in some it is an active source of light and in others it is a subwavelength detector of the electromagnetic radiation. Examples are the study and manipulation of plasmon resonances of a single gold nanoparticle, Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering at the single molecule level, spontaneous emission in nanoscopic dielectrica, emission of color centers in diamond nanocrystals and optical microscopy with a single-molecule light source.
A third motivation for many of our projects and techniques is performing quantum optics experiments in the condensed phase. Here too, we try to combine scanning probe techniques with laser spectroscopy and microscopy to study and manipulate the radiative properties of molecules and nanoparticles. One of the goals is a controlled coupling of a single nanoparticle to a well-defined mode of an optical microresonator. To this end, we also have spent some time developing and studying unconventional microresonators such as whispering gallery silica microspheres and photonic crystal microresonators.
Our expertise in scanning probe microscopy, laser spectroscopy, high resolution optical microscopy and single molecule detection have equipped us with many state-of-the-art tools in molecular biophysics. By applying and combining these techniques, we hope to study structural as well as dynamic processes in biological systems.
Optical methods in neuronal cell biology (more about us under:http://www.neuro.nano-optics.ethz.ch)
The goal of our group is to understand the biophysical and cell biological basis of the development and maintenance of neuronal membrane compartmentalization. Embedded in a Nano-Optics laboratory, we aim to create a highly collaborative environment to develop and integrate novel approaches from surface technology, computational biophysics and super resolution fluorescence microscopy in neuronal cell biology. Our lab shall be an exciting workplace for the next generation of interdisciplinary scientists.
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