This is a guest post from Jennifer Francis, PhD Student in the group. When group members go to conferences or courses, they have to write a travel blog post.
I recently attended the 8th European Short Course on “Time-resolved Microscopy and Correlation Spectroscopy” at PicoQuant headquarters in Aldershof-Berlin; specifically to learn about the principles and application of FRET, FLIM, and FCS to the Life Sciences. A day prior to this microscopy course, I also attended the 14th SymPhoTime Training Day. As well as discussing problems and applications of the SymPhoTime64 software with other users, I also had the opportunity to speak with a programmer of the software, who demonstrated many new features and assisted with analysis of my own FCS measurements at a computer station. My mornings generally started with passing an incredible sculpture of two heads, before arriving at the Max Born Institute for lectures delivered by scientists in the field of time-resolved microscopy, including Professor Jörg Enderlein.
After a Flammkuchen, I participated in afternoon practical microscopy sessions, where I got the chance to experience the commercially available super-resolution microscope: MicroTime 200 STED, which was awesome. Not only did we see this cutting-edge instrument in action, resolving structures below the diffraction limit, but we also had a peek inside the operating laser boxes! Whilst at the STED station, members of GATTAquant informed us about nanorulers, which are new standards for super-resolution microscopy. Another highlight of this workshop was the demonstration of the Zeiss LSM 880 with Airyscan, which boasts 32 detectors. There were a total of 42 participants on this course, both from academia and industry, including microscope representatives from Olympus, Zeiss, Leica, and Nikon. The consensus take home tip from all participating microscope companies was to always match the refractive index of the objective with that of the sample and to adjust the correction collar to take into account coverslip thickness.