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Looking into a fly's eyes
Date:12/6/2012

This press release is available in German.

Fine venules, thin branches of nerve tracts - thanks to the ultramicroscope developed at the Bioelectronics Department of the Institute for Solid-State Electronics at the Vienna University of Technology, the tiniest details of biological tissues can be represented in 3D. Laser beams are used to look inside flies, mice, or medical tissue samples. The laser technology and the optics in the device were developed by Saideh Saghafi. Using various optical tricks, she has managed to turn a laser beam into an extremely thin two-dimensional laser surface, which can be shone through samples layer by layer. She has now been awarded a major optics prize for this work.

Tissue made transparent

Biological tissue tends to be opaque, with light being scattered at the interfaces between different materials. This is why we cannot see through thick fog: each individual floating droplet of fog scatters the light, so all we can see is a blanket of white.

In order to represent the internal structure of biological tissue, it must first be made transparent to laser beams. 'The sample is treated first of all: any water it contains is replaced with a fluid with different optical properties, and this enables laser beams to penetrate deep into the sample,' explains Saideh Saghafi. Together with her colleagues at the department of Prof. Hans Ulrich Dodt at the Vienna University of Technology, she is creating images of previously unmatched quality, which are providing important information for medical research. The novel ultramicroscope is also ideal for the investigation and 3D representation of human tumours from a pathology perspective.

Ultra-thin light surfaces

Optical tricks are initially used to convert a conventional round laser beam into an elliptical beam, which is transforme
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Contact: Florian Aigner
florian.aigner@tuwien.ac.at
43-158-801-41027
Vienna University of Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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