Two Americans and one German won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry on Wednesday, including a professor from Stanford University, according to a Nobel Prize organization press release.
William E. Moerner, a professor of chemistry at the university, shares the coveted award with Eric Betzig of Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, and Stefan W. Hell, of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany, for the development of "super-resolved fluorescence microscopy," according to the release. Their groundbreaking work has allowed scientists to peer inside the pathways of individual molecules in living cells in order to make measurements of individual molecules and how they interact.
Moerner, who was in Brazil when his wife called and told him the news, said he is "incredibly excited and thrilled."
"Of course your heart races and you say, 'Can this be? Can this be?'" Moerner told Adam Smith, chief scientific officer at Nobel Media, over the phone. "I'm incredibly happy about the recognition of this field ... and of the science of many places around the world that has contributed to the effort."
Moerner and Betzig -- working separately -- laid the foundation for a second method of study called 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," the release stated.
This is the third year in a row a Stanford University researcher has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.