Kleinfelder’s Work Cited in Nobel for Chemistry

Stuart KleinfelderOct. 13, 2017 - The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited the research of Stuart Kleinfelder, UC Irvine professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and his co-authors in the write-up for the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This year’s chemistry prize was awarded to three European-born scientists (Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson) for their development of cryo-electron microscopy, a new method to assemble precise 3-D images of biological molecules like proteins, DNA and RNA.

Kleinfelder’s published research involved the creation, optimization and use of complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) active pixel sensor arrays for use in electron microscopy. He explained that by building on existing experience with charged-particle imaging for physics applications, UCI designed among the earliest sensors specifically adapted for direct imaging in electron microscopy.

“Rather than photographing a blurry phosphor screen lit by electrons, we placed the sensor directly in the electron’s path, leading to considerable improvements in image sharpness,” said Kleinfelder. “We optimized the image sensors to the point that each individual arriving electron could be detected to sub-pixel resolution. Our inclusion of fast on-chip digitization helped speed image capture to the point that photography by counting electrons became practical, leading to even further improvements in cryo-electron microscopy image quality. I congratulate the Nobel winners and the UCI students and other collaborators who made these important advances possible.”

– Lori Brandt

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