The Molecular Biophysics group has a strong multi-disciplinary character that is based on the group’s long-standing background in fluorescence spectroscopy. About fifteen years ago, the first steps were made to extend the fluorescence spectroscopy work to the microscopic level. This resulted in the current programme that focuses on the application and development of novel fluorescence spectroscopy-based imaging methods as well as the characterization and development of luminescent labels. The mission of the group is to develop and exploit fluorescence spectroscopy-based techniques in microscopy. In our vision the future of fluorescence microscopy lies in the combination of fluorescence imaging and spectroscopic techniques. The novel imaging methodologies under development in the group utilize advanced light sources, non-linear excitation methods and contrast based on fluorescence spectroscopy.
The technical developments by the group are to a great extent driven by biological and biophysical problems which cannot be imaged with conventional techniques. Fluorescence spectroscopy relies on the ability to incorporate luminescent molecules in a chemically specific way into the sample. Moreover, the application of spectroscopic contrast techniques requires knowledge of their photophysical characteristics. For these reasons the group also works on the characterization and development of luminescent labels. Conventional organic dyes are studied and characterized spectroscopically. Importantly, a number of collaborations were started to use novel luminescent particles such as quantum dots and dye-doped colloids as labels. Both types of luminescent particles offer interesting perspectives for use in imaging experiments.
Of course, we do not stand alone in our research. Together with our colleagues at Soft Condensed Matter we form one group of the multidisciplinary Debye Institute at Utrecht University.