Universiteit Leiden

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Orrit receives NWO-TTW Open Technology Programme grant

Michel Orrit has received an NWO-TTW Open Technology Programme grant. He will use it to image single molecules without the need for fluorescence.

NWO grants Orrit a subsidy of just short of half a million euros. This enables him to hire a PhD student and a postdoc, and to purchase additional equipment. The Open Technology Programme encourages synergies between research institutes and technology companies. To this end, NWO finances research with high potential towards technological applications.

Orrit will use the money to develop a technique called wide-field photothermal imaging. Earlier, he already imaged single molecules using fluorescence, but that limits observations to a few seconds. To develop his new technique without fluorescence, he and his research team will attach gold nanoparticles to molecules to serve as labels. Next, they will heat their sample with a laser, thereby changing the refractive index around the labels. A second laser beam will then be scattered by this local index change, providing a signal. This signal gives away the molecules’ locations, for unlimited observation times.

‘We will be the first to track molecules in this way using wide-field imaging,’ says Orrit. ‘Instead of scanning the sample step-by-step, we image the whole sample at once. That saves a lot of time.’