New Imaging Technique Renders 3D Images of Live Cells Without Need for Dyes

Posted on January 22, 2014

Researchers at the University of Illinois have developing a new imaging technique that renders 3D high-resolution imagery of live cells and their internal structures without the need for dyes or other chemicals. The imaging technique, white-light diffraction tomography (WDT), can be conducted using conventional microscopes and white light. Take a look:

The researchers were led by electrical and computer engineering and bioengineering professor Gabriel Popescu. Their results were published here in Nature Photonics.

Professor Popescu says, "One main focus of imaging cells is trying to understand how they function, or how they respond to treatments, for example, during cancer therapies. If you need to add dyes or contrast agents to study them, this preparation affects the cells' function itself. It interferes with your study. With our technique, we can see processes as they happen and we don't obstruct their normal behavior."

WDT uses a component that adds onto a conventional phase contrast microscope, without altering the microscope itself. Popescu founded a startup company, Phi Optics, to help with rapid large-scale adoption of WDT.

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