The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize for Chemistry to a German and two American scientists for their works in the field of optical microscopy that led to the development of the super-resolution fluorescence microscopy.

Eric Betzig, from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia; William Moerner, a professor from the Stanford University in California; and Germany's Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry director Stefan Hell, have been named this year's Nobel laureates for Chemistry for using fluorescence to take the capabilities of microscopes to an unprecedented level.

Scientists believed that there was limit to what the microscope could see. German optical scientist Ernst Abbe has stipulated in 1873 that the resolution would not go smaller than 0.2 millionths of a meter and that the maximum resolution has already been achieved.

The three scientists, however, came up with a workaround for this limit and proved this early contention wrong with their works that have paved way for super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, which involves using fluorescent markers on objects and scanning them to achieve more detailed images.

The birth of nanoscopy has given unprecedented levels of resolution to microscopes allowing scientists to see individual molecules inside of living cells and determine the cause of diseases. It has made it possible to see how the body functions and works at a cellular level.

Nanoscale microscopes can currently track the interactions of proteins that play a role in diseases that include cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. They are also used to track the division of fertilized eggs as they develop into embryos as well as to see how the synapses of the brain work.

Catherine Lewis, from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in Maryland said that the works of this year's Nobel Prize winners have given scientists the window into cell that they did not have before.

"You can observe the behavior of individual molecules in living cells in real time," Lewis said. "You can see ... molecules moving around inside the cell. You can see them interacting with each other."

The Academy said that mankind has benefited as a result of the works of the three men, who will be awarded 8 million crown or $1.1 million.

"Due to their achievements the optical microscope can now peer into the nanoworld," the Academy said in a statement. "Today, nanoscopy is used world-wide and new knowledge of greatest benefit to mankind is produced on a daily basis."

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