A research team from Thuringia has been awarded the German Future Prize 2022 for the development of a new microscope. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier presented the renowned award to the physicists Thomas Kalkbrenner, Ralf Wolleschensky and Jorg Siebenmorgen.
They developed the microscope technology at Carl Zeiss Microscopy in Jena. In previous fluorescence microscopy, a sample prepared with a biomarker – cells or microorganisms – is irradiated with laser light. The light stimulates the biomarker molecules to glow, and biological processes become visible. The problem with this: The laser light can affect or damage samples.
Gentle process and high image resolution
The microscope developed by the researchers aims to prevent this. According to the developers, the gentle process and high image resolution offer new opportunities for long-term observation of living cells. "We can only understand the processes if we can observe them," said Kalkbrenner at the beginning of the award ceremony.
The German Future Prize is endowed with 250,000 euros and is an award for technology and innovation. Market maturity is a prerequisite for the price.
The winning team competed against two other teams: A research group from Baden-Wurttemberg entered the race with a turbo charging station for electric cars. A team from Brainlab AG in Munich and the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf was nominated for an improved radiation method that is intended to increase the chances of recovery, especially in lung cancer patients.