HZB and Freie Universität Berlin establish the joint research group “X-Ray Microscopy” for studying complex cellular processes

In May this year, the joint research group “X-Ray Microscopy” was launched, combining the expertise of teams led by Prof. Dr. Gerd Schneider (Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin) and Prof. Dr. Helge Ewers (Freie Universität Berlin). While Ewers’ group contributes its experience in the field of optical microscopy and biological research, the HZB workgroup is responsible for X-ray microscopy at the synchrotron source BESSY II. The two methods help researchers to gain a detailed insight into the processes taking place inside cells.

We are very pleased about the new cooperation with Prof. Ewers’ workgroup. It gives our own activities in this field a much stronger connection to the biological research being done at the university,” says Prof. Dr. Gerd Schneider. The core duties of his department at HZB include making advancements to the x-ray microscopes and lenses at the synchrotron source BESSY II. The active exchange between the new cooperation partners will give a new boost to method development, says Schneider. Prof. Dr. Helge Ewers is also excited about the future-oriented cooperation: “X-ray microscopy opens up entirely new possibilities for us in the research of intracellular processes.”

The joint research group is all about the complementary use of optical and X-ray microscopy. Optical microscopy and super-resolution methods are excellent for locating proteins marked with dye molecules in tissue samples. X-ray microscopy, in turn, allows correlative imaging of the distribution of proteins, viruses or nanoparticles over a relatively large section in high-resolution and three-dimensions. The two microscopy methods thus deliver a comprehensive picture of the intracellular structures and processes.

After a successful upgrade, the X-ray microscope TXM at the synchrotron source BESSY II is now available again to users. Aside from biological studies, which can now be conducted with the combined expertise in the joint research group, the X-ray microscope is used above all for exploring various questions of materials and energy research.