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IMP: New Microscopy Method Supplies 3D images

Researchers at the Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna succeeded in developing a biological imaging process with an in-depth effect. This new technology is particularly suitable for sensitive and dynamic samples.

The new microscopy technique developed by IMP in cooperation with the Vienna University of Technology enables a three dimensional image of the analyzed sample to be created with a single measurement. The new light microscopy method is based on converting the position information of fluorescent markets into color information and then measuring it. This innovative approach was published in PNAS.

For many disciplines in the natural sciences, it is desirable to get highly enlarged, precise pictures of specimens such as cells. However, a drawback of most current approaches is the need to scan the depth of a sample several times in order to get a 3D picture. Katrin Heinze and Kareem Elsayad, lead authors of the PNAS publication, managed to circumvent this difficulty during their work at the IMP.

Precise images of sensitive and dynamic samples

Elsayad used a special form of light microscopy, namely fluorescence microscopy, as a means of microscopically analyzing fixed or live cells. In this case, fluorescent dyes, so-called fluorophores, are turned on by light of a certain wavelength and, as a consequence, spontaneously emit light of a different wavelength. Elsayad designed a so-called biocompatible nanostructure consisting of a quartz microscope slide with a thin silver film and a dielectric layer.

“The measured emission spectrum of a fluorescent dye above this substrate depends on its distance from the substrate. In other words, the position information of a collection of fluorophores is translated into color information, and this is what we were measuring in the end”, Elsayad said in trying to explain the new imaging approach in simple terms. “I believe that the beauty of our method is the relative simplicity in getting very precise data. Our analyses can be carried out on a conventional cofocal microscope”, adds Heinze.

This Report is compliments of Invest in Austria, an EACCNY member.