Fluorescence SIM available at EMSL: A powerful instrument to study molecular cell biology, including synthetic biology

December 19, 2012
Fluorescence SIM available at EMSL: A powerful instrument to study molecular cell biology, including synthetic biology
EMSL's newly installed fluorescence SIM delivers significantly higher spatial resolution imaging than conventional light microscopes.

A new super resolution fluorescence structured illumination microscopy system, or fluorescence SIM, is now available at EMSL as part of the lab's Cell Isolation and Systems Analysis capabilities.

Access to the new instrument is through EMSL's user proposal process. The EMSL Usage System lists it as Microscope: Fluorescence, Super Resolution Structured Illumination.

Classified as a super resolution microscope, the fluorescence SIM delivers significantly higher spatial resolution imaging than conventional light microscopes. The fluorescence SIM's resolving power is about 100-130 nanometers. Light microscopes cannot resolve structures smaller than approximately 250-300 nanometers. To put that into perspective, a water molecule is less than one nanometer, and a typical germ is about 1,000 nanometers.

The fluorescence SIM renders super resolution images in three dimensions. Being able to view samples and their spatial distribution in 3-D provides a greater depth of information for clearer scientific understanding.

Fluorescence SIM available at EMSL: A powerful instrument to study molecular cell biology, including synthetic biology

According to Galya Orr, senior research scientist and capability lead of EMSL CISA, the fluorescence SIM is a powerful instrument for the study of , including microbiology. It allows researchers to image live, intact hydrated cells.

"The beauty of the fluorescence SIM is you are working with cells in their native form," said Orr.

"A current scientific challenge in microscopy and imaging is to do dynamic experiments where we can observe things in real time and under real conditions," said Dave Koppenaal, for EMSL. "The fluorescence SIM allows us to conduct experiments in situ."

The fluorescence SIM uses standard and staining protocols, unlike some super resolution fluorescence microscopes that require specific fluorescent molecules to stain samples.

"You can resolve with a 100-, which you cannot do with other fluorescence microscopes," said Orr. "If you want to study a specific protein in a bacterium, you can make that protein glow in a different color and use the super resolution imaging system to identify the spatial and temporal expression pattern of the protein in relationship to other molecules and cellular structures to gain a better understanding of the function of that protein."

The fluorescence SIM greatly enhances EMSL's existing biology capabilities. The instrument will help researchers explore questions about bioenergy, bio-production, carbon recycling and other processes involving living cells. The fluorescence SIM will be especially helpful in the study of synthetic biology, the design and construction of new biological functions and systems not found in nature.

"There are only a handful of super resolution microscopy techniques," said Koppenaal. "The SIM is one of the newer ones, so it's not yet widely available. This should have appeal to both PNNL staff and EMSL users because it's a fairly unique instrument. EMSL is proud to steward this capability."

Explore further: Synergy between biology and physics drives cell-imaging technology

Related Stories

Making live cell microscopy affordable

July 13, 2012

Researchers in Japan have developed a low-intensity light source that allows cell biologists to visualize and handle live cells without destroying them during prolonged exposure. In addition to laying the foundation for new ...

Recommended for you

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity

July 28, 2015

When it comes to installing solar cells, labor cost and the cost of the land to house them constitute the bulk of the expense. The solar cells—made often of silicon or cadmium telluride—rarely cost more than 20 percent ...

Could stronger, tougher paper replace metal?

July 24, 2015

Researchers at the University of Maryland recently discovered that paper made of cellulose fibers is tougher and stronger the smaller the fibers get. For a long time, engineers have sought a material that is both strong (resistant ...

Changing the color of light

July 23, 2015

Researchers at the University of Delaware have received a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to explore a new idea that could improve solar cells, medical imaging and even cancer treatments. Simply put, they want ...

Wafer-thin material heralds future of wearable technology

July 27, 2015

UOW's Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials (ISEM) has successfully pioneered a way to construct a flexible, foldable and lightweight energy storage device that provides the building blocks for next-generation ...

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.