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Smithsonian, Olympus team up on new science education effort

December 10, 2013 10:47 am | News | Comments

Q?rius (pronounced “Curious”) is a new hub of scientific activity and education based at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. The product of a partnership between Olympus and the Smithsonian, the 10,000-square-foot experiential learning center will be equipped with dozens of microscopes and imaging systems that will enable museum visitors more than 6,000 bones, minerals, and fossils.

New tool assesses the impact of toxic agents in cells

December 10, 2013 9:21 am | News | Comments

By using optical techniques, researchers in Switzerland are now able to measure the concentration of the oxidizing substances produced by a damaged cell. This new biosensing technique for toxic agents also offers a new way to know more about the mechanisms of oxidative stress.

Study raises questions about longstanding forensic identification technique

December 10, 2013 7:58 am | News | Comments

Forensic experts have long used the shape of a person’s skull to make positive identifications of human remains. But those findings may now be called into question, since a new study from North Carolina State Univ. shows that there is not enough variation in skull shapes to make a positive identification.

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Ultrasound microscopy: Aid for surgeons makes the invisible, visible

December 9, 2013 9:17 am | News | Comments

An ultrasonic microscope emits a high frequency sound at an object, and the reflected sound captured by its lens is converted into a 2-D image of the object under scrutiny. Prof. Naohiro Hozumi in Japan is developing the technology to monitor living tissue and cell specimens for medical purposes.

A leap forward in x-ray technology

December 4, 2013 7:47 am | by David Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

X-rays transformed medicine a century ago by providing a noninvasive way to detect internal structures in the body. Still, they have limitations: X-rays cannot image the body’s soft tissues, except with the use of contrast-enhancing agents that must be swallowed or injected, and their resolution is limited. But a newly developed approach could dramatically change that.

Ultrasound, nanoparticle may help diabetics avoid the needle

November 21, 2013 10:12 am | News | Comments

A new nanotechnology-based technique for regulating blood sugar in diabetics may give patients the ability to release insulin painlessly using a small ultrasound device, allowing them to go days between injections—rather than using needles to give themselves multiple insulin injections each day. The technique was developed by researchers at North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Brain imaging reveals dynamic changes caused by pain medicines

November 20, 2013 8:39 pm | News | Comments

Univ. of Michigan researchers are the first to use brain imaging procedures to track the clinical action of pregabalin, a drug known by the brand name Lyrica that is prescribed to patients suffering from fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain. The study suggests role of brain imaging in creating personalized treatment of chronic pain.

Seven research universities team for molecular biology

November 8, 2013 7:00 am | News | Comments

Arizona State University is teaming up with seven other research universities to establish a new Science and Technology Center (STC), sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The center will be based at the University at Buffalo. It is expected to transform the field of structural and dynamic molecular biology, including drug development, by using x-ray lasers to peer into biological molecules. 

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Holograms offer hope against malaria

November 5, 2013 8:38 pm | News | Comments

Scientists have developed a 3D filming technique that has brought fresh insights into the behavior of malaria sperm. They were able to see that malaria sperm move in an irregular, lopsided corkscrew motion. Understanding how malaria parasites mate could pave the way for improved prevention and control of this deadly disease.

Computer-aided image analysis may offer second opinion in breast tumor diagnosis

November 4, 2013 2:19 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Chicago are developing computer-aided diagnosis and quantitative image analysis methods for mammograms, ultrasounds and magnetic resonance images to identify specific tumor characteristics, including size, shape and sharpness

Acoustic diode may lead to brighter, clearer ultrasound images

November 1, 2013 11:47 am | News | Comments

Most people know about ultrasound through its role in prenatal imaging: those grainy, grey outlines of junior constructed from reflected sound waves. A new technology called an "acoustic diode” that would transmit sound in one direction may dramatically improve future ultrasound images by changing the way sound waves are transmitted.

Promising new therapy in a smaller package

October 31, 2013 8:19 am | News | Comments

Microbeam radiation therapy provides tremendous promise for cancer patients through its ability to destroy tumor cells while protecting surrounding healthy tissue. Yet research into its clinical use has been limited by the sheer size of the technology required to generate the beams. Until now.

Analyzing hundreds of cells in a few mouse-clicks

October 30, 2013 9:37 am | News | Comments

The increasingly powerful microscopes used in biomedical imaging provide biologists with 3-D images of hundreds of cells, and cells in these images are often layered on each other. Under these conditions, it is impossible for traditional computational methods to determine the cells' properties. Researchers have developed a virtual tool that can analyze dozens of images in just an hour. This works out to hundreds of cells.

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Physicists provide new insights into coral skeleton formation

October 30, 2013 8:31 am | News | Comments

Researchers using transmission electron microscopy have examined the smallest building block of coral that can be identified: sphemlites. These studies have revealed three distinct regions whose formation could be directly correlated to the time of day. These findings could help scientists and environmentalists working to protect and conserve coral from the threats of acidification and rising water temperatures.

Metamaterial lens has ten times more power

October 29, 2013 8:48 am | News | Comments

A lens with ten times the resolution of any current lens, making it a powerful new tool for the biological sciences, has been developed by researchers at the Univ. of Sydney. The lens was created using fiber-optic manufacturing technology, and is a metamaterial, or a material with completely new properties not found in nature.

Neuroscientists discover new “mini-neural computer” in the brain

October 28, 2013 9:36 am | News | Comments

Dendrites, the branch-like projections of neurons, were once thought to be passive wiring in the brain. But now researchers at the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have shown that these dendrites do more than relay information from one neuron to the next. They actively process information, multiplying the brain's computing power.

Imaging breast cancer with light

October 24, 2013 2:51 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in The Netherlands have recently unveiled their “photoacoustic mammoscope,” a new device that could someday be used for routine breast cancer screenings. Instead of x-rays, which are used in traditional mammography, the photoacoustic breast mammoscope uses a combination of infrared light and ultrasound to create a 3-D map of the breast.

Optical technology helps surgeons see cancer tissue

October 22, 2013 8:21 am | News | Comments

OnTarget Laboratories LLC has teamed with partners in academia to test a novel optical imaging technology developed at Purdue Univ. that could help surgeons see cancer tissue during surgery. The technology is based on the over-expression of specific receptors on solid cancerous tumors and enables illumination of the tumor tissue during surgery.

Tracking viral DNA in the cell

October 16, 2013 3:29 pm | News | Comments

Cell biologists and chemists in Switzerland have revealed how viral DNA moves in human cells. They have developed a new method to generate virus particles containing labeled viral DNA genomes, which has allowed them to visualize, for the first time, single viral genomes in the cytoplasm and the nucleus.

Glowing neurons reveal networked link between brain, whiskers

October 16, 2013 11:04 am | News | Comments

Human fingertips have several types of sensory neurons that are responsible for relaying touch signals to the central nervous system. Scientists have long believed these neurons followed a linear path to the brain with a "labeled-lines" structure. But new research on mouse whiskers reveals a surprise: At the fine scale, the sensory system's wiring diagram doesn't have a set pattern.

Restoring surgeons’ sense of touch during minimally invasive surgeries

October 16, 2013 10:11 am | by David Salisbury, Vanderbilt Univ. | News | Comments

During open surgery, doctors rely on their sense of touch to identify anatomical structures: a procedure they call palpation. But this practice is not possible in minimally invasive surgery where surgeons work with small, specialized tools and miniature cameras. A small, wireless capsule has been developed that can restore the sense of touch that surgeons are losing as they shift increasingly from open to minimally invasive surgery.

Optical imaging technique devised to unlock the mystery of memory

October 15, 2013 8:16 am | News | Comments

In the search to understand memory, Wei Min is looking at cells at the most basic level, long before the formation of neurons and synapses. The asst. prof. of chemistry studies the synthesis of proteins, the building blocks of the body formed using genetic code from DNA. “We want to understand the molecular nature of memory, one of the key questions that remain in neuroscience,” he says.

Numerical method trumps descriptive approach to classifying pollen grains

October 10, 2013 9:11 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a new quantitative method of identifying pollen grains that is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Since the invention of the light microscopes, the classification of pollen and spores has been a highly subjective venture for those who use these tiny particles to study vegetation in their field, palynology. However, the limitations have kept researchers from classifying pollen and spores beyond a general level.

Spinning-disk microscope offers window into a cell’s core

October 10, 2013 8:24 am | News | Comments

The microscopic technique, developed by researchers at Queen Mary Univ. of London, represents a major advance for cell biologists as it will allow them to investigate structures deep inside the cell, such as viruses, bacteria and parts of the nucleus in depth.

Scientists use blur to sharpen DNA mapping

October 7, 2013 8:12 am | News | Comments

With high-tech optical tools and sophisticated mathematics, Rice Univ. researchers have found a way to pinpoint the location of specific sequences along single strands of DNA, a technique that could someday help diagnose genetic diseases. Proof-of-concept experiments in the Rice laboratory of chemist Christy Landes identified DNA sequences as short as 50 nucleotides at room temperature.

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