To test for skin cancer, patients today must endure doctors cutting away a sliver of skin, sending the biopsy to a lab and anxiously awaiting the results. Using laser microscopes that deploy rapid, ultra-short pulses to identify molecules, doctors may soon have the tools to painlessly scan a patient's troublesome mole and review the results on the spot, said Marcos Dantus.
The results touting this new molecule-selective technology can be found in the current issue of Nature Photonics, which Dantus co-authored with Sunney Xie of Harvard University.
"Smart lasers allow us to selectively excite compounds – even ones with small spectroscopic differences," said Dantus. "We can shape the pulse of the lasers, excite one compound or another based on their vibrational signatures, and this gives us excellent contrast."
In the past, researchers could approach this level of contrast by introducing fluorescent compounds. With the breakthrough using stimulated Raman scattering microscopy, fluorescent markers are unnecessary.
"Label-free molecular imaging has been the holy grail in medicine," Dantus said. "SRS imaging gives greater specificity and the ability to map a particular chemical species in the presence of an interfering species, such as cholesterol in the presence of lipids."
Additional potential applications include allowing researchers to closely examine how compounds penetrate skin and hair. Smart lasers also can better identify how drugs penetrate tissue and how drugs and tissue interact, thus mitigating the chances of potential side effects and helping reduce the time required to bring new drugs to market.
Dantus also is using smart laser imaging technology at MSU for detecting traces of hazardous substances from a distance.
"The ability to image with molecular specificity and sensitivity opens a number of applications in medicine as well as in homeland security," he said.
Collaboration for the paper began when Harvard graduate student Christian Freudiger contacted BioPhotonic Solutions, a high-tech company Dantus launched in 2003 based on his research at MSU. Dantus was not only able to provide the laser pulse shaper Harvard needed to conduct the research, but he also was able to lend his expertise as well as the support of his MSU laboratory, Dantus said.
"I like to say that we enable technology," he said. "Controlling ultrashort pulses, which once required Ph.D. experts, can now be done with push-button simplicity by a small computer-controlled box. This instrument is now being used in the most prestigious research laboratories in the world."
Dantus' research is funded in part by the National Science Foundation.
Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.
Layne Cameron | EurekAlert!
How prenatal maternal infections may affect genetic factors in Autism spectrum disorder
22.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
22.03.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences