Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Super-resolution' microscope possible for nanostructures

30.04.2013
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.

The paper was co-authored by biomedical engineering doctoral student Pu Wang; research scientist Mikhail N. Slipchenko; mechanical engineering doctoral student James Mitchell; Chen Yang, an assistant professor of physical chemistry at Purdue; Eric O. Potma, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of California, Irvine; Xianfan Xu, Purdue's James J. and Carol L. Shuttleworth Professor of Mechanical Engineering; and Cheng.

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. More workshop information is available at http://www.conf.purdue.edu/cheng

The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu

Sources: Ji-Xin Cheng, 765-494-4335, jcheng@purdue.edu

Chen Yang, 765-496-3346, yang@purdue.edu

Related website:
Department of Chemistry

Note to Journalists: Ji-Xin Cheng's name is pronounced "Gee-Shin." Journalists may obtain a copy of the research paper by contacting Nature at press@nature.com or calling 212-726-9231.

Emil Venere | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.purdue.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons
27.06.2017 | ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences

nachricht Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold
26.06.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>