The branched capillary structure, feeding adipose tissue in a living mouse, is revealed with multiphoton fluorescence microscopy as nanocrystal quantum dots circulate through the bloodstream. Credit: Bioimaging Resource/Cornell University
Copyright © Cornell University
Multiphoton fluorescence microscopy with quantum dots illuminates a capillary beneath the skin of a living mouse. In this image, collagen is imaged in blue by second harmonic generation while quantum dots inside the capillary are imaged in yellow by two-photon fluorescence excitation. Because red blood cells exlude the quantum dots, they appear as shadows within the capillaries, which can be monitored over time (yellow trace at bottom of image). Credit: Bioimaging Resource/Cornell University. Copyright © Cornell University
Tiny blood vessels, viewed beneath a mouse’s skin with a newly developed application of multiphoton microscopy, appear so bright and vivid in high-resolution images that researchers can see the vessel walls ripple with each heartbeat -- 640 times a minute.
The capillaries are illuminated in unprecedented detail using fluorescence imaging labels, which are molecule-size nanocrystals called quantum dots circulating through the bloodstream. Quantum dots are microscopic metal or semiconductor boxes (in this case cadmium selenide-zinc sulfide) that hold a certain number of electrons and, thus, have a wide number of potential applications in electronics and photonics.
Writing in the latest issue of the journal Science (May 30, 2003), researchers at Cornell University and a nanocrystal manufacturer, Quantum Dot Corp., report that the nanocrystals are particularly useful for producing high-resolution, three-dimensional images inside living.
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