New tool could help molecular biologists understand complex processes within cells | 7/25/2016 | Staff
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Northwestern Engineering researchers have developed a new platform that can image single molecules in 3-D, allowing deeper probes into the inner workings of cells.

The platform uses spectroscopic single-molecule localization microscopy (sSMLM), a tool that can simultaneously capture the spatial information of single molecules and their spectroscopic signatures.

Researchers - Tool - SSMLM - Two-mirror - System

Researchers improved the tool by combining existing sSMLM with a two-mirror system, allowing it to image molecules in 3-D at much larger depths. This new tool could help molecular biologists understand complex processes inside cells.

"Our design is relatively easy to implement, and will allow us to study molecular interactions much better than before," said Hao Zhang, professor of biomedical engineering and coauthor of the research. "Now we can not only see where molecules are, but also what they are." Zhang developed the technology with Cheng Sun, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Results - May - Journal - Optica - Coauthors

The results were published May 21 in the journal Optica. Coauthors included Ki-HeeSong, a Ph.D. candidate, and Yang Zhan, a postdoctoral fellow, both of Northwestern's Biomedical Engineering department.

In recent years, scientists and engineers have used sSMLM to better understand molecular interactions and cellular dynamics. The system provides information on the location of molecules and how those molecules interact with light, which tells scientists what type of molecule they see.

System - Dimensions - View - Molecules - Interactions

But the system only works in two dimensions, giving just a partial view of molecules and their interactions.

Zhang and Sun wanted to extend imaging to 3-D and originally developed a way to do this by adding an additional lens, but found that a pair of mirrors can achieve the same effect in a much more elegant way.


The mirrors work by...
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