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Faster CARS, less damage: NIST chemical microscopy shows potential for cell diagnostics
Date:10/14/2010

observes. CARS, which uses a pair of lasers to pump up the vibrational states and increase signal, is part of the answer. The current breakthroughs for a broadband CARS instrument developed at NIST since 2004, says Cicerone, gets the same information in 50 milliseconds per pixel.

The new catch is power. Recent papers have argued that to get the necessary data, the lasers used in CARS must run at power levels above the damage threshold for living cells, making the technique nearly useless for clinical purposes. Not quite, according to the NIST team. Their paper describes a combination of improved hardware to gather spectra over a very broad range of wavelengths, and a clever mathematical technique that effectively amplifies the useable signal by examining a portion of signal normally ignored as background interference. The result, says Cicerone, pushes their minimum power level below the damage threshold while retaining the speed of CARS. "We have all the information that you have in a Raman spectrum but we get it 5 to 100 times faster," he says, adding that some obvious modifications should push that higher, opening the door to more widespread use of vibrational spectroscopy in both biology and clinical diagnosis.


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Contact: Michael Baum
michael.baum@nist.gov
301-975-2763
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert  

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Faster CARS, less damage: NIST chemical microscopy shows potential for cell diagnostics
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