Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lasers create new possibilities for biological technology

06.10.2003


A team of researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder has taken another step in the quest to build a compact, tabletop x-ray microscope that could be used for biological imaging at super-high resolution.



By firing a femtosecond laser - a laser that generates light pulses with durations as short as 100 trillionth of a second - through a gas-filled tube called a waveguide, they were able to create more efficient "laser-like" beams in regions of the spectrum that were previously inaccessible.

The wavelength region over which they generate this "soft" x-ray light efficiently is called the "water-window" region, an important region for biological imaging, according to physics Professor Margaret Murnane. She also is a fellow of JILA, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


The water window is an area in the spectrum where water is less absorbing than carbon, which means carbon absorbs more light and thus makes it easier to take images, according to Murnane. Current technology allows researchers to do work in this region, but requires a large-scale and expensive facility.

"With further work, this advance will make it possible to build a compact microscope for biological imaging that fits on a desktop," Murnane said. "Such microscopes could visualize processes happening within living cells, or perhaps even allow scientists to understand how pharmaceuticals function in detail."

A paper on the subject by graduate student Emily Gibson, physics Professor Henry Kapteyn, Murnane, Ariel Paul, Nick Wagner, Ra’anan Tobey, David Gaudiosi and Sterling Backus of the CU-Boulder department of physics and JILA appears in the Oct. 3 issue of the journal Science. Ivan Christov of Sofia University in Bulgaria, Andy Aquila and Eric Gullikson of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and David Attwood of the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory also participated in the work.

"We were able to generate more efficient light in the water-window than in the past," said Emily Gibson, the lead author of the paper. "People have been able to generate small amounts of light in the water window with a laser, but our approach using fibers generates the light more efficiently, allowing you to have enough light to do useful things like take images of cells."

To create the "soft" x-ray beams, the research team led by Kapteyn and Murnane fired a laser through a gas-filled hollow tube called a waveguide. The intense laser light literally rips the atoms of the gas apart, creating both ions and electrons, according to Murnane. The laser beam then accelerates the electrons to very high energies and slams them back into the ions, creating "soft" x-ray light in the process, she said.

Unfortunately, some of the waves can be out of phase, canceling each other out and weakening the strength and coherence of the output beam, she said. However, by modulating the diameter of the guide, Murnane said they can arrange for the laser light and "soft" x-ray light to travel at the same speed along the same path, increasing the efficiency of the process.

As a result, a well-synchronized stream of photons fires out of the system, boosted up to a high-energy, "soft" x-ray wavelength. Many of the most important technologies of the 20th century, such as the Internet and MRI imaging, emerged from the use of electromagnetic radiation ranging from radio waves to the visible region of the spectrum, she said. In recent years fiber optics and photonics have revolutionized communications and created a new global society via the Internet.


Additional Contacts:
Margaret Murnane, 303-492-7839
murnane@jila.colorado.edu

Emily Gibson, 303-492-0918
Greg Swenson, 303-492-3113

Henry Kapteyn | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective
14.12.2017 | The Optical Society

nachricht New ultra-thin diamond membrane is a radiobiologist's best friend
14.12.2017 | American Institute of Physics

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: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>