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The Lead

MRI, on a molecular scale

April 21, 2014 8:51 am | by Peter Reuell, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

A team of scientists, led by physicist Amir Yacoby of Harvard Univ., has developed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system that can produce nanoscale images, and may one day allow researchers to peer into the atomic structure of individual molecules. Though not yet precise enough to capture atomic-scale images of a single molecule, the system already has been used to capture images of single electron spins.

Breakthrough atomic-level observation uses super-resolution microscope

April 17, 2014 9:46 am | News | Comments

A research group in Japan has developed a new advanced system that combines a super-...

Excitons observed in action

April 16, 2014 7:52 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A quasiparticle called an exciton has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton...

Technique uses astronomy, opthalmology to sharpen microscope images

April 14, 2014 11:33 am | News | Comments

Biological samples bend light in unpredictable...

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Tiny “step edges” are a big step for surface science

April 9, 2014 2:59 pm | News | Comments

Recent experiments in Austria have explained the behavior of electrons at tiny step edges on titanium oxide surfaces. The finding, which shows why oxygen atoms attach so well to these edges, is important for solar cell technology and novel, more effective catalysts.

No compromises: JILA’s short, flexible, reusable AFM probe

April 9, 2014 10:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers at JILA in Colorado have engineered a short, flexible, reusable probe for the atomic force microscope (AFM) that enables state-of-the-art precision and stability in picoscale force measurements. Shorter, softer and more agile than standard and recently enhanced AFM probes, the JILA tips will benefit nanotechnology and studies of folding and stretching in biomolecules such as proteins and DNA.

Rutgers Univ. unveils $5.2 million microscope facilities

April 1, 2014 8:22 am | News | Comments

Funded in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Rutgers Univ. has unveiled two microscopy suites, together valued at more than $5.2 million. These instruments, which include a high-end scanning transmission electron microscope, are among the best in the world at producing nanoscale images that will hopefully impact scientific developments.

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MiXcroscopy correlative imaging solution introduced by JEOL, Nikon

March 28, 2014 12:49 pm | News | Comments

JEOL and Nikon have integrated optical microscopy and field emission scanning electron microscopy in a way that enables seamless observation of the same region of interest on a sample with fast, accurate navigation. The technique, MiXcroscopy, employs the same specimen holder for both the optical microscope and the scanning electron microscope.

New method automatically tracks biological particles in live cell microscopy images

March 25, 2014 12:58 pm | News | Comments

In order to track the movements of biological particles in a cell, scientists at Heidelberg Univ. and the German Cancer Research Center have developed a powerful analysis method for live cell microscopy images. This so-called probabilistic particle tracking method is automatic, computer-based and can be used for time-resolved 2-D and 3-D microscopy image data.

Scientists develop 3-D SEM metrology for 10-nm structures

March 24, 2014 9:55 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have devised an idea for determining the 3-D shape of features as small as 10-nm wide. The model-based method compares data from scanning electron microscope images with stored entries in a library of 3-D shapes to find a match and to determine the shape of the sample. The work provides a powerful new way to characterize nanostructures.

New mathematical equation explains the behavior of nanofoams

March 24, 2014 3:33 pm | News | Comments

A research study has discovered that nanometric-size foam structures follow the same universal laws as does soap lather: small bubbles disappear in favor of the larger ones. They reached this conclusion after producing and characterizing nanofoam formed by ion radiation on a silicon surface.

Cells get ready for their close-up

March 21, 2014 7:45 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In 2007, Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists developed a type of microscopy that allowed them to detail the interior of a living cell in 3-D, without adding any fluorescent markers or other labels. This technique also revealed key properties, such as the cells’ density. Now the researchers have adapted that method so they can image cells as they flow through a tiny microfluidic channel.

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Getting rid of bad vibrations

March 20, 2014 9:25 am | News | Comments

Scanning electron microscopes are extremely sensitive and even subtle movements going on around them can affect their accuracy. Vibration control tables already exist to dampen these sometimes barely perceptible disturbances. But now a new kind of isolation platform for the first time integrates sensors and actuators into the mount, resulting in a platform that is more cost-effective and compact than its predecessors.

Assessing the chemical composition of a MOF with nanoscale resolution

March 12, 2014 8:38 am | News | Comments

Researchers have applied a novel microscopy technique to characterize metal-organic framework (MOF) materials, potentially opening a pathway for engineering the chemical properties of these materials at the nanoscale. MOFs are composed of metal ions connected by organic linker molecules to form 3-D-crystalline networks of nanopores with high surface areas, leading to applications in catalysis, chemical separation and sensing.

Microanalysis technique makes the most of small nanoparticle samples

February 24, 2014 10:31 am | News | Comments

Researchers from NIST and the FDA have demonstrated that they can make sensitive chemical analyses of minute samples of nanoparticles by, essentially, roasting them on top of a quartz crystal. The NIST-developed technique, "microscale thermogravimetric analysis," holds promise for studying nanomaterials in biology and the environment, where sample sizes often are quite small and larger-scale analysis won't work.

Microscopy system delivers real-time view of battery electrochemistry

February 19, 2014 3:17 pm | News | Comments

Using a new microscopy method, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) can image and measure electrochemical processes in batteries in real time and at nanoscale resolution. Scientists at ORNL used a miniature electrochemical liquid cell that is placed in a transmission electron microscope to study an enigmatic phenomenon in lithium-ion batteries called the solid electrolyte interphase.

Best practices detailed for super-resolution microscopy method

February 12, 2014 11:36 am | News | Comments

A newly published research paper on super-resolution microscopy from the U.K. highlights best practices in a technique called localization microscopy, which uses fluorescent labelling and computer modelling to bypass the diffraction limit. The method described in the freely available paper summarizes the methods used to process captured images using MATLAB scripts.

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Scientists create first 3-D movies of living sperm

February 12, 2014 11:12 am | News | Comments

To improve their chances of success, in vitro fertilization clinics need to assess the viability of the sperm they use. Now doctors may soon have a new technique to help them sort the good sperm cells from the less viable ones: a tracking system, developed by a team of researchers from four European institutions, that takes 3-D movies of living sperm.

Urban bees using plastic to build hives

February 12, 2014 10:59 am | News | Comments

Once the snow melts, the bee population will be back in business pollinating and making honey. A new study by scientists in Canada reveals that some these bees use bits of plastic bags and plastic building materials to construct their nests. The discovery reveals how urban bee populations have adapted to a human-dominated world.

Andor Technology joins Oxford Instruments to drive growth

February 12, 2014 8:57 am | News | Comments

Oxford Instruments, a leading provider of high-technology tools for industry and research has recently acquired Andor. A supplier of high-performance cameras, microscope systems and software for the physical science and life science industries, Andor will continue to focus on growing its existing core markets and will spearhead Oxford Instruments strategic expansion into the nanobiotechnology arena.

Sometimes the average just isn’t good enough

February 11, 2014 8:35 am | News | Comments

Computational biologists in Austria have recently shown that the common practice of averaging is not always a good thing when it comes to analyzing protein crystal structures. A study shows that protein structures could be more dynamic and heterogeneous than current methods of x-ray analysis suggest.

Peering into the transit pore

February 10, 2014 7:50 am | News | Comments

The lipid-rich membranes of cells are largely impermeable to proteins, but evolution has provided a way through—in the form of transmembrane tunnels. A new study in Germany shows in unmatched detail what happens as proteins pass through such a pore.

FEI acquires oil and gas imaging specialist Lithicon

February 7, 2014 8:34 am | News | Comments

Instrumentation company FEI has acquired Lithicon AS of Trondheim, Norway, and Canberra, Australia. Lithicon provides digital rock technology services and pore-scale micro computed tomography (µCT, or microCT) equipment to oil and gas companies worldwide. In conjunction with the acquisition, FEI has obtained the helical scan microCT product and associated software from the Australia National Univ.

Optically Inclined

February 6, 2014 2:20 pm | by Paul Livingstone | Ocean Optics | Articles | Comments

Microscopy is growing at a rapid rate as the result of substantial investment in nanotechnology research. Advances in nanotechnology not only support advances in materials technology, they support developments in the semiconductor and medical devices industries. These billions of dollars drive support for advanced microscopy technologies, which are expected to become a $5 to 6 billion market globally by 2018.

Graphene “sandwich” improves imaging of biomolecules

February 5, 2014 12:56 pm | by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago | News | Comments

By sandwiching a biological molecule between sheets of graphene, researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago have obtained atomic-level images of the molecule in its natural watery environment. Researchers typically rely on relatively thick windows of silicon nitrate to protect specimens in a vacuum environment of an electron microscope, but the atomically-thin graphene sheets promise a major improvement.

Approach helps identify new biofuel sources that don’t require farmland

February 5, 2014 12:41 pm | News | Comments

While the debate over using crops for fuel continues, scientists are now reporting a new, fast approach to develop biofuel in a way that doesn’t require removing valuable farmland from the food production chain. Their method, which could be employed for other targets, uses atomic force microscopy and a tunable laser source to examine the fuel-producing potential of a soil bacterium known for making antibiotics.

Watching nanoparticles grow

February 5, 2014 8:55 am | News | Comments

Individual silver nanoparticles in solutions typically grow through single atom attachment, but when they reach a certain size they can link with other particles, according to a team which includes scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This seemingly simple result has shifted a long-held scientific paradigm that did not consider kinetic models when explaining how nanoparticle ensembles formed.

Capturing ultra-sharp images of multiple cell components at once

February 3, 2014 10:32 am | News | Comments

A new microscopy method could enable scientists to generate snapshots of dozens of different biomolecules at once in a single human cell, a team from the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. reported in Nature Methods. Such images could shed light on complex cellular pathways and potentially lead to new ways to diagnose disease, track its prognosis or monitor the effectiveness of therapies at a cell level.

A detailed look at HIV in action

January 31, 2014 9:45 am | by Katie Neith. California Institute of Technology | News | Comments

The human intestinal tract, or gut, is best known for its role in digestion. But this collection of organs also plays a prominent role in the immune system. In fact, it is one of the first parts of the body that is attacked in the early stages of an HIV infection. Knowing how the virus infects cells and accumulates in this area is critical to developing new therapies for the over 33 million people worldwide living with HIV.

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