Stefan Hell
  • 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry


German physicist. He pioneered breaking the diffraction barrier in a light microscope using conventional lenses. In 2014, he was honoured by the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy” together with Eric Betzig and William Moerner.

Education and Work Experience

1990-1996, Ph.D. in Physics, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Heidelberg
1997-Present, Member and Director, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry
2003-Present, Head of the Optical Nanoscopy Division, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg;Adj. Prof., Faculty of Physics, University of Heidelberg

Honors and Awards

2014, Kavli Prize
2014, Nobel Prize in Chemistry
2016, Foreign Associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences

Major Academic Achievements

In normal microscopes the wavelength of light sets a limit to the level of detail possible. However this limitation can be circumvented by methods that make use of fluorescence, a phenomenon in which certain substances become luminous after having been exposed to light. In 1994, Stefan W. Hell developed a method in which one light pulse causes fluorescent molecules to glow, while another causes all molecules except those in a very narrow area to become dark. An image is created by sweeping light along the sample. This makes it possible to track processes occurring inside living cells. Stefan W. Hell’s contributions included of Pioneered breaking the diffraction barrier in a light microscope using conventional lenses, invention and development of STED microscopy and related concepts, discovered and demonstrated on-off switching of (fluorescence) signal as key mechanism for overcoming the diffraction resolution barrier.