John Sidles, UW professor of orthopaedics and sports medicine and co-director of the UW Quantum System Engineering Lab, has received the 2011 Guenther Laukien Prize for his pioneering work on magnetic resonance force microscopy (MRFM). He shares the prize with Daniel Rugar and H. Jonathan Mamin, both of the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., for their conception, implementation and application of MRFM.
The Laukien Prize was presented in April at the 52nd annual Experimental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Conference in Pacific Grove, Calif. The conference program noted Sidles pioneering spirit and in-depth understanding of the physics underlying the research, and credited him with having a clear goal in mind: to detect single magnetic spins.
Sidles, Rugar and Mamin began collaborating in 1991 to create MRFM, a magnetic resonance imaging technique that relies on detecting very small magnetic forces to create three-dimensional nanoscale pictures of biological structures.
In 2004, Sidles colleagues successfully detected a single electron spin in silicon dioxide by electron paramagnetic resonance force microscopy. In 2009, they reported capturing a detailed image of an individual tobacco mosaic virus at a resolution down to four nanometers by MRFM. This result represents a 100 million-fold improvement in volume resolution over conventional MRI. In addition to its high resolution, MRFM also has advantages over electron microscopy: it can “see” deeper into layers below surfaces, and it does not destroy delicate biological materials. Sidles and his collaborators hope the technique will lead to new insights in biological structure by providing the ability to study complex biological structures such as viruses, bacteria and proteins.
The Laukien Prize carries a monetary award of $20,000 funded by Bruker BioSpin.