"Electron microscopy is the most important tool for imaging objects at the nano-scale – the size of molecules and objects in cells," said Niels de Jonge, who is an assistant professor of Molecular Biology & Biophysics at Vanderbilt. But electron microscopy requires a high vacuum, which has prevented imaging of samples in liquid, such as biological cells.
The new technique – liquid STEM – uses a micro-fluidic device with electron transparent windows to enable the imaging of cells in liquid. The investigators demonstrate imaging of individual molecules in a cell, with significantly improved resolution (the fineness of detail in the image) and speed compared to existing imaging methods.
"Liquid STEM has the potential to become a versatile tool for imaging cellular processes on the nanometer scale," de Jonge said. "It will potentially be of great relevance for the development of molecular probes and for the understanding of the interaction of viruses with cells."
"Our key innovation with respect to other techniques for imaging in liquid is the combination of a large volume that will accommodate whole cells, a resolution of a few nanometers, and fast imaging of a few seconds per image," de Jonge said.
COMPAMED.de; Source: Vanderbilt Medical Center