A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
FIS/03 FIS/07
Learning objectives
The imaging of biological samples, or bioimaging, plays a key role in current life science research, enabling scientists to analyze molecules, cells and tissues from a range of living systems. Developments in microscopy techniques and associated tools now allow imaging across an extensive range of scales, from 1-2 nm to whole organism phenotyping.
The aim of the course is to present the theory and the practice of different techniques of microscopy (optical, electronic and scanning probe) also applied in lab-on-a-chip systems.
The course is ideally linked to those dealing with the need of imaging, i.e. molecular and cellular biology, etc.
Expected learning outcomes
After following this course, the students will acquire basic know-how in microscopy and the capability to select suitable approaches to image biological samples.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
The course provides a description of the imaging techniques applied to biology. Some basic notions of geometrical optics are functional to the detailed description of optical microscopes. Confocal microscopy and related techniques (FRAP, FRET, FLIM) will be extensively treated together with more recent developments in super-resolution techniques, in particular SIM, PALM, STORM, STED. Some practical experience in cell staining will be given. Electron microscopies (SEM, TEM, Cryo-TEM) will be presented underlying the different investigations on biological samples that can be carried out. Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) will be also presented as a versatile approach for measuring mechanical properties of biological samples.
The course will be concluded with a part focused on lab-on-a-chip and lab-on-cell systems for high throughput analyses, disposable and low-cost devices as promising applications in biotechnology.
During the course, some visits to facilities equipped with the described instruments will be organized. In a laboratory of microfluidics, practical experience will be carried out on micro-devices in the contest of lab-on-a-chip design.
Prerequisites for admission
Teaching methods
Teaching mode: classroom lectures supported by projected material, visits to the laboratories equipped with the microscopes. Practical sessions in microfluidic lab. Attendance is highly recommended.
Teaching Resources
[1] G. Haugstad, Atomic force microscopy: understanding basic modes and advanced applications, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, N.J, 2012.
[2] U. Kubitscheck, ed., Fluorescence microscopy: from principles to biological applications, Wiley-Blackwell, Weinheim, 2013.
[3] R.F. Egerton, Physical principles of electron microscopy: an introduction to TEM, SEM, and AEM, second edition, Springer, Cham, 2016.

Copies of the slides projected in the classroom as well as other materials will be made available through the course website on the ARIEL platform of the University of Milano ( By no means this material replaces the lectures or a textbook. The material is made available only to registered students of the Degree Course in Molecular Biotechnology and Bioinformatics and should not be distributed to others.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The evaluation of the student's performance is based on: i) the presentation of a paper dealing with recent studies in biotechnology using at least one of the imaging techniques described in the course and ii) oral examination spanning all the topics covered in the course.
Examples of the examination test will be discussed during classes and made available to students.
FIS/03 - PHYSICS OF MATTER - University credits: 0
FIS/07 - APPLIED PHYSICS - University credits: 0
Practicals: 16 hours
Lectures: 40 hours