'Silver nanoparticle' microscope may shed new light on cancer, bone diseases

February 26, 2009

In a finding that could help speed the understanding of diseases ranging from cancer to osteoporosis, researchers in Utah are reporting development of a new microscope technique that uses “silver nanoparticle” mirrors to reveal hidden details inside bones, cancer cells, and other biological structures. The method also can help identify structural damage in a wide variety of materials, including carbon-fiber plastics used in airplanes, the researchers say.

Their study is scheduled for the March issue of ACS’ Nano Letters.

In the new study, John Lupton and colleagues point out that one of the most powerful, widely used tools for imaging hidden biological structures is fluorescence microscopy, which requires the specimen to be treated with fluorescent dyes or stains. But the dyes used to visualize the structures can kill living cells, limiting the effectiveness of the technique, the researchers note.

The scientists improved on this technique by using an infrared laser to excite clusters of silver nanoparticles, each about 1/5000th the width of a human hair, placed below the material being studied. The particles focus intense beams of light up through the sample to reveal information about the composition and structure of the substance examined, the scientists say. In laboratory studies, they used the new technique to view the iridescent green scales of the so-called “photonic beetle,” whose scales may provide clues to designing new, more powerful solar cells and computer chips, the scientists say.

Provided by ACS

Explore further: Team identifies structure of tumor-suppressing protein

Related Stories

Team identifies structure of tumor-suppressing protein

August 20, 2015

An international group of researchers led by Carnegie Mellon University physicists Mathias Lösche and Frank Heinrich have established the structure of an important tumor suppressing protein, PTEN. Their findings provide ...

Supercomputers listen to the heart

August 19, 2015

New supercomputer models have come closer than ever to capturing the behavior of normal human heart valves and their replacements, according to recent studies by groups including scientists at the Institute for Computational ...

Molecular scientists unexpectedly produce new type of glass

August 14, 2015

When Prof. Juan de Pablo and his collaborators set about to explain unusual peaks in what should have been featureless optical data, they thought there was a problem in their calculations. In fact, what they were seeing was ...

Yes, you can make alcohol from Vegemite, but ...

August 14, 2015

Vegemite has been in the news of late for all the wrong reasons. It all started when Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said he'd heard the yeast extract was being used in dry communities to brew alcohol.

Recommended for you

Electrical circuit made of gel can repair itself

August 25, 2015

(Phys.org)—Scientists have fabricated a flexible electrical circuit that, when cut into two pieces, can repair itself and fully restore its original conductivity. The circuit is made of a new gel that possesses a combination ...

Scientists grow high-quality graphene from tea tree extract

August 21, 2015

(Phys.org)—Graphene has been grown from materials as diverse as plastic, cockroaches, Girl Scout cookies, and dog feces, and can theoretically be grown from any carbon source. However, scientists are still looking for a ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.