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'Label-free' imaging tool tracks nanotubes in cells, blood for biomedical research
Date:12/5/2011

too small to be seen with a conventional light microscope. One challenge in using the transient absorption imaging system for living cells was to eliminate the interference caused by the background glow of red blood cells, which is brighter than the nanotubes.

The researchers solved this problem by separating the signals from red blood cells and nanotubes in two separate "channels." Light from the red blood cells is slightly delayed compared to light emitted by the nanotubes. The two types of signals are "phase separated" by restricting them to different channels based on this delay.

Researchers used the technique to see nanotubes circulating in the blood vessels of mice earlobes.

"This is important for drug delivery because you want to know how long nanotubes remain in blood vessels after they are injected," Cheng said. "So you need to visualize them in real time circulating in the bloodstream."

The structures, called single-wall carbon nanotubes, are formed by rolling up a one-atom-thick layer of graphite called graphene. The nanotubes are inherently hydrophobic, so some of the nanotubes used in the study were coated with DNA to make them water-soluble, which is required for them to be transported in the bloodstream and into cells.

The researchers also have taken images of nanotubes in the liver and other organs to study their distribution in mice, and they are using the imaging technique to study other nanomaterials such as graphene.


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Contact: Emil Venere
venere@purdue.edu
765-494-4709
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert  

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