Researchers Create 3-D Images of Living Cells Using Holographic Microscopy

Posted on February 7, 2013

3D Cell Image EPFL

Researchers from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have developed a device that can create 3-D images of living cells - and track their reactions to stimuli - without requiring contrast dyes or fluorophores. The device combines holographic microscopy and computational image processing. The device was created by Yann Cotte and Fatih Toy.

Cotte and Toy say 3-D images of living cells can be obtained in just a few minutes with a resolution of less than 100 nanometers, which is 1000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. The researchers plan to launch a startup company to build portable devices that could deliver these kinds of observations in vivo, without the need for removing tissue.

Cotte said in a statement, "We can observe in real time the reaction of a cell that is subjected to any kind of stimulus. This opens up all kinds of new opportunities, such as studying the effects of pharmaceutical substances at the scale of the individual cell, for example."

Cotte and Toy say the technology they have developed is so significant to the world of microscopy that it is "almost comparable to the leap from photography to live television." The research was published in the journal, Nature Photonics.

3D Cell Image EPFL

Photos: Yann Cotte - Fatih Toy - EPFL (top)/Alain Herzog / EPFL (second photo)

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