Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

'Super-resolution' Microscope Possible for Nanostructures

Published: Thursday, May 02, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, May 02, 2013
Bookmark and Share
STAM - New imaging system uses a trio of laser beams.

Researchers have found a way to see synthetic nanostructures and molecules using a new type of super-resolution optical microscopy that does not require fluorescent dyes, representing a practical tool for biomedical and nanotechnology research.

"Super-resolution optical microscopy has opened a new window into the nanoscopic world," said Ji-Xin Cheng, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and chemistry at Purdue University.

Conventional optical microscopes can resolve objects no smaller than about 300 nanometers, or billionths of a meter, a restriction known as the "diffraction limit," which is defined as half the width of the wavelength of light being used to view the specimen.

However, researchers want to view molecules such as proteins and lipids, as well as synthetic nanostructures like nanotubes, which are a few nanometers in diameter.

Such a capability could bring advances in a diverse range of disciplines, from medicine to nanoelectronics, Cheng said.

"The diffraction limit represents the fundamental limit of optical imaging resolution," Cheng said. "Stefan Hell at the Max Planck Institute and others have developed super-resolution imaging methods that require fluorescent labels. Here, we demonstrate a new scheme for breaking the diffraction limit in optical imaging of non-fluorescent species. Because it is label-free, the signal is directly from the object so that we can learn more about the nanostructure."

Findings are detailed in a research paper that appeared online Sunday (April 28) in the journal Nature Photonics.

The imaging system, called saturated transient absorption microscopy, or STAM, uses a trio of laser beams, including a doughnut-shaped laser beam that selectively illuminates some molecules but not others.

Electrons in the atoms of illuminated molecules are kicked temporarily into a higher energy level and are said to be excited, while the others remain in their "ground state."

Images are generated using a laser called a probe to compare the contrast between the excited and ground-state molecules.

The researchers demonstrated the technique, taking images of graphite "nanoplatelets" about 100 nanometers wide.

"It's a proof of concept and has great potential for the study of nanomaterials, both natural and synthetic," Cheng said.

The doughnut-shaped laser excitation technique, invented by researcher Stefan Hell, makes it possible to focus on yet smaller objects.

Researchers hope to improve the imaging system to see objects about 10 nanometers in diameter, or about 30 times smaller than possible using conventional optical microscopes.

"We are not there yet, but a few schemes can be applied to further increase the resolution of our system," Cheng said.

Future research may include work to use lasers with shorter wavelengths of light. Because the wavelengths are shorter, the doughnut hole is smaller, possibly allowing researchers to focus on smaller objects.

The work will be discussed during the third annual Spectroscopic Imaging: A New Window into the Unseen World workshop on May 23 and 24 at Purdue. The workshop is hosted by the university's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Remote-Controlled Drug Delivery
A team of researchers has created a new implantable drug-delivery system using nanowires that can be wirelessly controlled.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Microsecond Raman Imaging Might Probe Cells, Organs for Disease
An advanced medical diagnostic tool for the early detection of cancer and other diseases.
Thursday, April 02, 2015
Purdue-Based Firms Grow After Receiving Emerging Innovations Fund Investments
The Fund has helped to support new business ventures across a range of research areas.
Friday, March 13, 2015
Keck Foundation to Fund Purdue Research into Spectroscopic Imaging
Ji-Xin Cheng leads a Purdue team awarded a $1 million W.M. Keck Foundation grant to develop a new type of imaging technology for cell and tissue analysis that could bring advanced medical diagnostics.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care Products Could Taint Swimming Pools
A new study suggests pharmaceuticals and chemicals from personal care products end up in swimming pools, possibly interacting with chlorine to produce disinfection byproducts with unknown properties and health effects.
Monday, January 12, 2015
Purdue Research Suggests Approach to Treat Virus Causing Respiratory Illness
Enterovirus D68 has stricken children with serious respiratory infections.
Monday, January 05, 2015
Drinking Water Odors, Chemicals Above Health Standards Caused by 'Green Building' Plumbing
Several types of plastic pipes in eco-friendly green buildings in the United States have been found to leach chemicals into drinking water that can cause odors and sometimes exist at levels that may exceed health standards.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
New Technique Yields Drug, Biomedical Test Results in One Minute
Slug flow microextraction makes it possible to quickly detect the presence of drugs or to monitor certain medical conditions using only a single drop of blood or urine.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Producing Orange Corn Rich in Provitamin A
Improvement of carotenoid levels in corn a simpler, faster process for plant breeders.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
New Chip Promising For Tumor-Targeting Research
The new system, called a tumor-microenvironment-on-chip device, will allow researchers to study the complex environment surrounding tumors and the barriers that prevent the targeted delivery of therapeutic agents.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Mass Spectrometry Tool Helps Guide Brain Cancer Surgery
A tool to help brain surgeons test and more precisely remove cancerous tissue was successfully used during surgery, according to a Purdue University and Brigham and Women's Hospital study.
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
System 'Prints' Precise, Tailored Drug Dosages
The new approach uses a combination of data and mathematics to determine the precise dosage.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Purdue, Houston Methodist to Take Drug Discoveries from the Bench Top to the Bedside
The planned collaboration on research and educational initiatives includes clinical trials of drugs developed at Purdue.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Helping Genes Get Out of the Starting Blocks Faster
Yeast can quickly adapt to changes in its environment with the help of molecules known as long non-coding RNAs, a Purdue study shows.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Laser Tool Speeds up Detection of Salmonella in Food Products
Purdue University researchers have developed a laser sensor that can identify Salmonella bacteria grown from food samples about three times faster than conventional detection methods.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
How a Genetic Locus Protects Adult Blood-Forming Stem Cells
Mammalian imprinted Gtl2 protects adult hematopoietic stem cells by restricting metabolic activity in the cells' mitochondria.
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
The MaxSignal Colistin ELISA Test Kit from Bioo Scientific
Kit can help prevent the antibiotic apocalypse by keeping last resort drugs out of the food supply.
"Good" Mozzie Virus Might Hold Key to Fighting Human Disease
Australian scientists have discovered a new virus carried by one of the country’s most common pest mosquitoes.
Non-Disease Proteins Kill Brain Cells
Scientists at the forefront of cutting-edge research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have shown that the mere presence of protein aggregates may be as important as their form and identity in inducing cell death in brain tissue.
Closing the Loop on an HIV Escape Mechanism
Research team finds that protein motions regulate virus infectivity.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Potential Treatment for Life-Threatening Viral Infections Revealed
The findings point to new therapies for Dengue, West Nile and Ebola.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos