A team of scientists working at the University of Texas recently demonstrated a new method of creating 3-D images of biological materials structures at a higher resolution under the most natural conditions. The method is being counted as an important one for shading light over the way cells interact with each other and shed light on a better manufacturing of artificial organs like heart or skin. The method used by this team is known as thermal noise imaging.
It actually records nanometer-scale images of collagen fibrils networks that are a small part of the connective tissue located in the animal skin. Nanometer, in measurement, is a billionth part of a meter and about one-hundred-thousandth wide as compared to a human hair strand. When scientists made a study of the collagen fibrils at this level, they were able to realize what features actually affect the elasticity of the skin.The process will definitely help in better designing of artificial skin cells and tissues.
It is not easy to capture crisp 3-D images of nanoscale structures located in cells and other biological parts. The reason being these are bathed in liquid and very very soft in nature. A small heat fluctuation can lead to a shift in movement and functioning of these structures. In order to overcome this obstacle, they used the super-resolution imaging technique that would often compel these parts to loose their natural state and get stiff. If one wished to make a study of their natural mechanical properties, they could not. This restriction can be overcome though by focusing on the most rigid structures that are fixed to the glass surface. But that again restricts the types and configuration of structures that can be studied.
The team we are talking about here took a different approach to this problem. In order to form the image, they added nanospheres-some nanosphere sized beads that reflect the laser rays. This helped in maintaining the biological state of their samples under natural conditions. The scientists working on this project explain, “This chaotic wiggling is a nuisance for most microscopy techniques because it makes everything blurry. We’ve turned it to our advantage. We don’t need to build a complicated mechanism to move our probe around. We sit back and let nature do it for us.”
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