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New microscopes at NIH reveal live, developing cells in unprecedented 3-D clarity
Date:10/25/2013

Researchers at NIH have developed two new microscopes, both the first of their kind. The first captures small, fast moving organisms at an unprecedented rate and the second displays large cell samples in three dimensions while decreasing the amount of harmful light exposure to the cells. Both microscopes surpass in clarity any other currently on the market.

The first microscope allows researchers to obtain fast moving images at double the spatial resolution of a conventional microscope. This provides a vastly clearer picture, enabling cell components that were once quite blurry to now become sharply defined; the difference is similar to that of a 1990's-era standard TV set versus today's high-definition TVs. The microscope is also 10 to 100 times faster than traditional technologies.

"It's always helpful to look at smaller and smaller things," said Hari Shroff, Ph.D., at NIH's National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) lab chief of NIBIB's section on High Resolution Optical Imaging (HROI.) "Looking at a fixed cell at high resolution can tell you where different parts of the cell are at any given moment; but because much of biology depends on the movement of very small proteins finding each other and interacting, we really needed to look at how things move in a live cell."

The problem is that the higher the resolution, the harder it is to eliminate the blur from both light diffraction (the glow that sometimes occurs as light bends around objects) and the motion going on inside the live cell. Traditional linear structured illumination microscopy (SIM) cannot maintain the high resolution desired by researchers when the sample is moving quickly.

Shroff and his research fellow Andrew York, Ph.D., found an answer to these problems with their new instant linear structured illumination microscopy (iSIM), described in a paper published in Nature Methods on October 6th. Building on traditional SI
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Contact: Jessica Meade
nibibpress@mail.nih.gov
301-496-3500
NIH/National Institute of Biomedical Imaging & Bioengineering
Source:Eurekalert  

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