Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New imaging technique provides rapid, high-definition chemistry

Chemical images now much more detailed

With intensity a million times brighter than sunlight, a new synchrotron-based imaging technique offers high-resolution pictures of the molecular composition of tissues with unprecedented speed and quality.

Carol Hirschmugl, a physicist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), led a team of researchers from UWM, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to demonstrate these new capabilities.

Hirschmugl and UWM scientist Michael Nasse have built a facility called "Infrared Environmental Imaging (IRENI)," to perform the technique at the Synchrotron Radiation Center (SRC) at UW-Madison. The new technique employs multiple beams of synchrotron light to illuminate a state-of-the-art camera, instead of just one beam.

IRENI cuts the amount of time needed to image a sample from hours to minutes, while quadrupling the range of the sample size and producing high-resolution images of samples that do not have to be tagged or stained as they would for imaging with an optical microscope.

"Since IRENI reveals the molecular composition of a tissue sample, you can choose to look at the distribution of functional groups, such as proteins, carbohydrates and lipids," says Hirschmugl, "so you concurrently get detailed structure and chemistry."

The technique could have broad applications not only in medicine, but also in pharmaceutical drug analysis, art conservation, forensics, biofuel production, and advanced materials, such as graphene, she says.

Funded by $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Major Research Instrumentation Program, the development of the facility has quickly attracted other projects supported by the NSF and the National Institutes of Health. It is published online today in Nature Methods.

The work is a collaboration with the labs of Rohit Bhargava, assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and pathologists Dr. Virgilia Macias and Dr. André Kajdacsy-Balla at UIC. "It has taken three years to establish IRENI as a national user facility located at the SRC," says Nasse. "It is the only facility of its kind worldwide."

Chemical fingerprints

The unique features of the synchrotron make it a highly versatile light source in spectroscopy. Streams of speeding electrons emit continuous light across the entire electromagnetic spectrum so that researchers can access whatever wavelength is best absorbed for a particular purpose.

Although not visible to the human eye, the mid-infrared range of light used by the team documents the light absorbed at thousands of locations on the sample, forming graphic "fingerprints" of biochemically important molecules.

Using 12 beams of synchrotron light in this range allows researchers to collect thousands of these chemical fingerprints simultaneously, producing an image that is 100 times less-pixelated than in conventional infrared imaging.

"We did not realize until now the improvement in detail and quality that sampling at this pixel size would bring," says Bhargava. "The quality of the chemical images is now quite similar to that of optical microscopy and the approach presents exciting new possibilities."

Testing for future applications

The team tested the technique on breast and prostate tissue samples to determine its capabilities for potential use in diagnostics for cancer and other diseases. The researchers were able to detect features that distinguished the epithelial cells, in which cancers begin, from the stromal cells, which are the type found in deeper tissues, with unprecedented detail.

Separating the two layers of cells is a "basement membrane" which prevents malignant cells from spreading from the epithelial cells into the stromal cells. Early-stage cancers are concentrated in the epithelial cells, but metastasis occurs when the basement membrane is breached. Using a prostate cancer sample, the team had encouraging results in locating spectra of the basement membrane, but more work needs to be done.

"IRENI provides us a new opportunity to study tissues and provides lessons for the development of the next generation of IR imaging instruments," says Michael Walsh, a Carle Foundation Hospital-Beckman Institute post-doctoral fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and co-author on the paper.

It opens the door for development of synchrotron-based imaging that can monitor cellular processes, from simple metabolism to stem cell specialization.

Carol Hirschmugl | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>