Follow the progress QSTORM research as it happens!

This unusual blog has multiple authors, including investigators and students from each of the four QSTORM university research labs.

> See Teams to learn more about the bloggers and their labs.

2015 AAAS Symposium: Reunion in San Jose

IBIV at AAASJessica, Peter, Carol Lynn, and Karine reunited with other veterans of the 2010 NSF IBIV Ideas Lab last weekend in San Jose to engage in a spirited review of the  this unusual approach to stimulating high-risk, high-reward collaborative research.  None of us anticipated the quality and sheer quantity of scientific, career, educational, and societal impacts reported during this 3-hour session by PIs from all three imaging and visualization research projects funded through IBIV. NSF Senior Policy Advisor Chuck Liarakos, who briefed the audience on the evolution and goals of the Ideas Lab format, told the group near the end of the discussion that these summary stories had to find a way back to program administrators at NSF, either in writing or in briefings at the agency.   In a series of 15-minute talks, the PIs spoke of the great difficulty in forging productive working relationships with collaborators introduced to each other only during the five days of the intensive residential Ideas Lab, and also of their joy at achieving some breakthrough scientific results through these same collaborations, some still being played out.  Perhaps the most exceptional finding was of the enormous impact the IBIV funding had  on career development and directions for the relatively young set of investigators, some of whom received their first federal grant through this program.  The recently completed QSTORM student survey revealed profound implications for the 16 students and post-docs who participated for a year or longer, nearly all of them citing the benefit of the experience working on interdisciplinary teams in helping them pursue new paths in research and industry.  The model QSTORM pursued of hiring a roving post-doc, Jianquan Xu, whose year-long experience in three of the four labs spurred knowledge transfer and innovation, was well-noted by all present, including a UK research council attendee who indicated she would bring that concept back to her colleagues.  IBIV Ideas Lab facilitator Andy Burnett and IBIV PI Ed Rosa-Molinar noted how rewarding it was to get a chance to hear about some of the more profound and unforeseen consequences of this social engineering experiment in stimulating innovation which they helped to create.  Next steps?  Chuck Liarakos said he would like to find some way to capture the insights gained at this session in a further report, journal article, or meeting at NSF.   All participants agreed.

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Kner Lab Achieves Multicolor QDot 3D STORM! Paper in ACS Nano

ACS Nano Multicolor STORM image nn-2014-06952g_0009Congratulations to Jianquan, Kayvan and Peter on the acceptance of their paper, Multicolor 3D Super-Resolution Imaging by Quantum Dot Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy, in ACS Nano.

We demonstrate multicolor three-dimensional superresolution imaging with quantum dots (QSTORM). By combining quantum dot asynchronous spectral blueing with stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy and adaptive optics, we achieve three-dimensional imaging with 24nm lateral and 37nm axial resolution. By pairing two short pass filters with two appropriate quantum dots, we are able to image single blueing quantum dots on two channels simultaneously, enabling multicolor superresolution imaging with high photon counts.

See the paper here.


  1. Gang says:

    Hi Peter and Jianquan:

    Just saw your paper online. This should be a big part of the accomplishments of the QSTORM team; congrats!

    Gang Ruan

Posted in Kner Lab Notes, Team Blog | 1 Comment

Kner Lab shares QSTORM work at Photonics West

The QSTORM team members from the Kner Lab will be sharing their work at Photonics West this week. On Feb. 7, in a session on Superresolution Microscopy, they will present “Multi-color quantum dot stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (QSTORM)”. On Feb. 8, in a session on Adaptive Optics, they will present “Wavefront correction using machine learning methods for single molecule localization microscopy”. Good luck!

Here are the abstracts:
Multi-color quantum dot stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (qSTORM)
Paper 9331-11
Time: February 7, 2015 2:45 PM – 3:05 PM
Author(s): Kayvan F. Tehrani, Jianquan Xu, Peter A. Kner, The Univ. of Georgia

Although Single Molecule Localization (SML) techniques have pushed the resolution of fluorescence microscopy beyond the diffraction limit, the accuracy of SML has been limited by the brightness of the fluorophores. The introduction of Quantum Dots (QD) for SML promises to overcome this barrier, and the QD Blueing technique provides a novel approach to SML microscopy. QDs have higher quantum yield making them brighter and providing a higher accuracy of localization. However in biological imaging, multi-color staining is very important for showing the features of the samples under study. Here we introduce two color super-resolution microscopy using Quantum Dot Blueing on biological samples.

Wavefront correction using machine learning methods for single molecule localization microscopy
Paper 9335-20
Time: February 8, 2015 8:30 AM – 8:50 AM
Author(s): Kayvan F. Tehrani, Jianquan Xu, Peter A. Kner, The Univ. of Georgia

Optical Aberrations are a major challenge in imaging biological samples. In particular, in single molecule localization (SML) microscopy techniques (STORM, PALM, etc.) a high Strehl ratio point spread function (PSF) is necessary to achieve sub-diffraction resolution. Distortions in the PSF shape directly reduce the resolution of SML microscopy. A challenge for wavefront correction in SML microscopy is a robust optimization metric, since image intensity cannot be used due to the naturally high fluctuations in photon emission by single molecules. Here we evaluate different intensity-independent metrics and compare different machine learning methods for AO wavefront optimization.

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QSTORM in the Afterlife

CL-icon-smallNSF funding for the QSTORM labs at Ohio State, Brown, Carnegie-Mellon, and University of Georgia has come to an end.  The Museum of Science team is still going strong, continuing with education, outreach, knowledge sharing, and evaluation activities, through May 2015.   Karine is continuing to entertain large audiences at the Museum twice weekly with the hit presentation “Making Molecular Movies with QSTORM.”  We are in the midst of organizing our upcoming Symposium at AAAS, as well as surveying all QSTORM students and PIs to learn more about the impact of this collaborative research project.

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QSTORM’s Reach at the Museum

As the QSTORM project is coming to close, I wanted to look back at “Making Molecular Movies with QSTORM”, one of the most successful and well-received stage presentations we’ve done. Since the show debuted in March 2013, I delivered it 123 times on the Museum’s Gordon Current Science & Technology stage to audiences exceeding 4,300 people!

If you missed it, here’s another look:
YouTube Preview Image

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QSTORM at Diamondpalooza!

CL-icon-smallLast week, the MOS team organized a Diamond Quantum Technologies Visualization and Education Workshop at Harvard focused on developing strategies for sharing diamond nitrogen-vacancy center research with public audiences and students in higher education.  Karine shared “Making Molecular Movies with QSTORM” with the group, which included leading diamond NV researchers, author and illustrator David Macaulay, and NOVA filmmaker Larry Klein.  We used the QSTORM presentation to show the group how we develop a public presentation about complex research areas involving interdisciplinary collaboration.  Diamond NV’s are being pursued as sources of intense illumination for biological imaging, and Ron Walsworth’s lab at Harvard has been partnering on a super-resolution technique using them with Stefan Hell, this year’s Nobel Prize-winner in biological imaging.  The workshop was sponsored by the NSF Science-Technology Center for Integrated Quantum Materials.  (Carol Lynn is co-director and Karine leads the informal science education team.)

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Jessica is awarded a AAAS Fellowship

One of our QSTORM PIs, Jessica Winter, was recently recognized with a fellowship by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. Jessica was recognized for “distinguished contributions in the field of chemical and biomedical engineering, particularly the synthesis and development of magnetic quantum dots for cell imaging and separations.” AAAS fellows will be recognized at the upcoming AAAS meeting in San Jose this February.
Congratulations, Jessica!

Find out more here.

Also, at the upcoming February meeting of AAAS, the QSTORM collaboration is also being featured at a session. Carol Lynn is leading the session called “When Experts Collide: Driving Cross-Cutting Innovation in Biological Imaging and Informatics” to explain how QSTORM and other interdisciplinary teams exploring biological imaging and visualization came about from the NSF IBIV IDEAS lab. Both Jessica and Peter will be presenting at this session.


  1. Gang Ruan says:


Posted in Alpert Lab Notes, Team Blog, Winter Lab Notes | 1 Comment

Jessica presents at TEDx Columbus

In early November, Jessica was one of the featured presenters at TEDx Columbus. She shared her story about being a cancer nanotechnology researcher who one day finds herself as a cancer patient.

YouTube Preview Image
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Nobel Prize for Super-Resolution Imaging

Hell wins the Nobel! The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced today that it was awarding the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to: Eric Betzig of Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Stefan W. Hell of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry; and William E. Moerner of Stanford University. The prize was awarded for developing techniques that surpassed the limitations of light microscopy and ushered in the era of nanoscopy. The Academy is recognizing the contributions of 2 different techniques – Hell developed STED (Stimulated Emission Depletion Microscopy) in 2000; while Betzig and Moerner developed Single-Molecule Microscopy (PALM) in 2006.

nobel chemistry 2014

Due to some similarities between STED, PALM and STORM, we’ve reported on Hell’s work in the past on In an interview with this morning, Hell says: “I love to be a scientist. I’ve always enjoyed being curious. I’ve always enjoyed doing challenging things and also challenging common wisdom… I imagined there would be a way to crack the diffraction barrier. But of course I didn’t know exactly how it would work, but I had a gut feeling that there must be something and so I tried to think about it, to be creative. And that initial phase of the development, it was a creative act. In the end of course you have to prove that it’s not just imagination… And there is where the hard work comes in.” Sounds like Hell and the QSTORM PIs share a similar philosophy and curious spirit!


For a long time optical microscopy was held back by a presumed limitation: that it would never obtain a better resolution than half the wavelength of light. Helped by fluorescent molecules the Nobel Laureates in Chemistry 2014 ingeniously circumvented this limitation. Their ground-breaking work has brought optical microscopy into the nanodimension.

In what has become known as nanoscopy, scientists visualize the pathways of individual molecules inside living cells. They can see how molecules create synapses between nerve cells in the brain; they can track proteins involved in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases as they aggregate; they follow individual proteins in fertilized eggs as these divide into embryos.

It was all but obvious that scientists should ever be able to study living cells in the tiniest molecular detail. In 1873, the microscopist Ernst Abbe stipulated a physical limit for the maximum resolution of traditional optical microscopy: it could never become better than 0.2 micrometres. Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner are awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014 for having bypassed this limit. Due to their achievements the optical microscope can now peer into the nanoworld.

Two separate principles are rewarded. One enables the method stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy, developed by Stefan Hell in 2000. Two laser beams are utilized; one stimulates fluorescent molecules to glow, another cancels out all fluorescence except for that in a nanometre-sized volume. Scanning over the sample, nanometre for nanometre, yields an image with a resolution better than Abbe’s stipulated limit.

Eric Betzig and William Moerner, working separately, laid the foundation for the second method, single-molecule microscopy. The method relies upon the possibility to turn the fluorescence of individual molecules on and off. Scientists image the same area multiple times, letting just a few interspersed molecules glow each time. Superimposing these images yields a dense super-image resolved at the nanolevel. In 2006 Eric Betzig utilized this method for the first time.

Today, nanoscopy is used world-wide and new knowledge of greatest benefit to mankind is produced on a daily basis.

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“Seeing the Invisible”

The New York Times today posted a great short animated documentary by Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck, about Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the original pioneer of biological imaging. In 1674, he used a homemade microscope to look at a drop of pond water and discovered the amazing invisible world of microbes. Nearly 350 years later, researchers (like the QSTORM team) are still trying to “see the invisible”…

Animated Life: Seeing the Invisible

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