Watt W. Webb

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Watt Wetmore Webb is known for his co-invention (with Winfried Denk and Jim Strickler) of Multiphoton microscopy in 1990.

Winfried Denk is a German physicist, director of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried, close to Munich.

Two-photon excitation microscopy

Two-photon excitation microscopy is a fluorescence imaging technique that allows imaging of living tissue up to about one millimeter in depth. It differs from traditional fluorescence microscopy, in which the excitation wavelength is shorter than the emission wavelength, as the wavelengths of the two exciting photons are longer than the wavelength of the resulting emitted light. Two-photon excitation microscopy typically uses near-infrared excitation light which can also excite fluorescent dyes. However, for each excitation, two photons of infrared light are absorbed. Using infrared light minimizes scattering in the tissue. Due to the multiphoton absorption, the background signal is strongly suppressed. Both effects lead to an increased penetration depth for these microscopes. Two-photon excitation can be a superior alternative to confocal microscopy due to its deeper tissue penetration, efficient light detection, and reduced photobleaching.



Professor Watt W. Webb’s undergraduate studies at MIT in Business and Engineering Administration for his SB degree in 1947 led him to engineering research and development at Union Carbide Corporation Research Laboratories until 1952, then back to MIT for his ScD in Metallurgy awarded in 1955, then returning to Union Carbide for solid-state and chemical physics and as coordinator of fundamental research and then assistant director of research until he joined the Cornell University faculty of Engineering Physics in 1961, introducing experimental research in superconductivity and in continuous phase transitions. He served as director of the School of Applied and Engineering Physics from 1983 to 1989 and is presently a member of the graduate faculties of eight fields, which indicates his interdisciplinary research focus. He has directed the NIH Developmental Resource for Biophysical Imaging Opto-Electronics for the last 20 years. He is on the board of directors and executive committee of the Cornell Center for Technology, Enterprise, and Commercialization, is affiliated with the university's Biophysics Program, the Cornell Center for Materials Research, the Nanobiotechnology Center and serves on the Executive Committee of the Neuroscience Focus Area. He has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University, a Guggenheim fellow, and a scholar in residence at the NIH Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study.

Union Carbide company

Union Carbide Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company. It currently employs more than 2,400 people. Union Carbide produces chemicals and polymers that undergo one or more further conversions by customers before reaching consumers. Some are high-volume commodities and others are specialty products meeting the needs of smaller markets. Markets served include paints and coatings, packaging, wire and cable, household products, personal care, pharmaceuticals, automotive, textiles, agriculture, and oil and gas. The company is a former component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Union Carbide was 50.9% stakeholder in Union Carbide India Limited, the company responsible for the Bhopal disaster.

Cornell University Private Ivy League research university in Upstate New York

Cornell University is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are captured in Cornell's founding principle, a popular 1868 Ezra Cornell quotation: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."

Superconductivity physical phenomenon

Superconductivity is the set of physical properties observed in certain materials, wherein electrical resistance vanishes and from which magnetic flux fields are expelled. Any material exhibiting these properties is a superconductor. Unlike an ordinary metallic conductor, whose resistance decreases gradually as its temperature is lowered even down to near absolute zero, a superconductor has a characteristic critical temperature below which the resistance drops abruptly to zero. An electric current through a loop of superconducting wire can persist indefinitely with no power source.

He is a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a founding fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He won the APS Biological Physics Prize in 1990, the Ernst Abbe Lecture Award of the Royal Microscopical Society (UK) and Carl Zeiss (Germany) in 1997, the Michelson-Morley Award in 1999, the Rank Prize for Opto-electronics in 2000, the Jablonski Award Lecturer in 2001, was the National Lecturer of the Biophysical Society in 2002, the MIT Lord Lecturer in 2004, the Rohm and Haas Lecturer in 2005, and the Leonardo Lecturer for the Universita Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Milano, Italy in 2006 and has been selected for the Ernst Abbe award of the New York Microscopy Society in 2007. He has served as chairman of the Division of Biological Physics of APS and associate editor of Physical Review Letters. He has published over 310 papers in solid state and chemical physics and in biological physics; with 22 U.S. patents plus many foreign patents. He is active as a consultant and in various national advisory committees and professional societies.

The American Physical Society (APS) is the world's second largest organization of physicists. The Society publishes more than a dozen scientific journals, including the prestigious Physical Review and Physical Review Letters, and organizes more than twenty science meetings each year. APS is a member society of the American Institute of Physics. Kate Kirby is APS's current chief executive officer. She took on the role on in February 2015.

American Association for the Advancement of Science international non-profit organization promoting science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an American international non-profit organization with the stated goals of promoting cooperation among scientists, defending scientific freedom, encouraging scientific responsibility, and supporting scientific education and science outreach for the betterment of all humanity. It is the world's largest general scientific society, with over 120,000 members, and is the publisher of the well-known scientific journal Science, which had a weekly circulation of 138,549 in 2008.

American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering organization

The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, representing 50,000 individuals and the top 2% of medical and biomedical engineers.


Professor Webb pioneered the techniques of Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) in 1972 [1] and Multiphoton microscopy (MPM) in 1990. [2] FCS enables single-molecule detection in solutions at nanomolar concentrations and provides temporal resolution of the dynamic processes of individual molecules signaled by their fluorescence. FCS reveals molecular mobility, conformational fluctuations and chemical reactions in solutions and allows the detection of extremely sparse molecules and particles. In situ measurements of the dynamics of fluorescence flicker by FCS, photobleaching, phototoxicity, and induced fluorescence are being used to discern dynamics of biological processes and molecular mechanisms of disease. Multiphoton excitation in laser scanning fluorescence microscopy provides for high resolution, high signal-to-noise imaging in living cells and deep in turbid tissues in vivo and significantly reduces photodamage and minimizes image degradation due to scattering and autofluorescence. His laboratory at Cornell University continues to extend the frontiers of these technologies, now for example extending MPM and FCS to imaging molecular processes within the cellular nucleus for gene expression in vivo. Recently initiated is the development of technology for introduction of MPM into Medical Endoscopy for in vivo, in situ real time diagnostics.


In 2010 Webb was awarded the Alexander Hollaender Award in Biophysics by the National Academy of Sciences. [3]

The Alexander Hollaender Award in Biophysics is awarded by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences "for outstanding contributions in biophysics". Named in honor of Alexander Hollaender, it has been awarded every three years since 1998.

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  1. Magde D, Elson EL, Webb WW (1974). "Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. II. An experimental realization". Biopolymers. 13: 29–61. doi:10.1002/bip.1974.360130103.
  2. Denk W, Strickler JH, Webb WW (1990). "Two-photon laser scanning fluorescence microscopy". Science. 248: 73–76. Bibcode:1990Sci...248...73D. doi:10.1126/science.2321027. PMID   2321027.
  3. "Alexander Hollaender Award in Biophysics". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 13 February 2011.