Super-Resolution Microscopy Provides '4D' Views
Super-resolution microscopy is a Nobel prize-winning technique that can “see” beyond Abbe’s diffraction-of-light limit, providing unprecedented views of cells and their interior structures and organelles.
But super-resolution microscopy only offers improved spatial resolution; to visualize and understand how living cells function in health and disease, high “temporal” (time) resolution is also required.
A team led by Professor Theo Lasser, head of the LOB, has developed a “4D microscope” that they dubbed PRISM (Phase Retrieval Instrument with Super-resolution Microscopy). A simple add-on to existing widefield microscopes, it combines 3D super-resolution microscopy (for high spatial resolution) with fast 3D phase (time) imaging in a single instrument. Phase imaging translates phase changes (changes over time) of light — caused by changes in cells and their organelles — into conventional spatial maps of the cells.
To achieve fast 3D phase imaging, the scientists designed an image-splitting prism that allows for simultaneous recording of a stack of eight z-displaced (at different depths) images. This allows the microscope to perform high-speed, 3D phase imaging across a volume of 2.5 x 50 x 50 micrometers. The team was able to image intracellular dynamics at up to 200 Hz (200 times per second — about six faster than conventional video cameras — allowing for imaging fast-changing events).
Science fiction fans of the 1970's loved James Hogan's 1977 novel Inherit the Stars, and in particular the idea of a trimagnescope that could provide detailed views inside any object.
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