A new microscope reveals new features of a promising material for solar cells

Published:

24 Jan 2023 20:50 GMT

Experts believe that super-resolution microscopy can now be done without state-of-the-art microscopes.

A team of scientists led by researchers at Yale University, USA, developed and patented a technique called Unclearing Microscopy, which physically inflates and then stains cells to circumvent the need for expensive microscopes. . The technique makes some small features large enough to see the cells with the naked eye and magnifies the details with a simple microscope. The two-step technique was tested on human cells and mouse brain tissue with excellent results., reported The Scientist, last Thursday.

The protocol

First, they dipped the samples into a super-water-absorbent hydrogel solution, which contains sodium polyacrylate. After the cells absorbed the solution, the gel was swelled with water, physically expanding the cells until they were approximately the same size as sesame seeds. “The cells remain invisible at this point because their contents have been diluted 8,000 times with water.“, explained Ons M’Saad, one of the scientists in the group. “We needed to devise a stain [método de caracterización de bacterias que utiliza un colorante] magnified so that the cells are no longer translucent and appear vivid.

The cell’s proteins were tagged with small molecules that were then attached to other compounds in the hydrogel under light to produce large polymers that can be stained blue, making the cell more visible.

The second technique involved depositing an optimal dose of silver on the sample which, together with the above method, it amplified the signal more than 100,000 times. This improved the contrast enough to see the cells with the naked eye. Using the technique, M’Saad said, he was able to discern the shape of an enlarged cell and identify its nucleus and cytoplasm, all with the naked eye. The report on the development of Unclearing Microscopy not yet been peer reviewedBut it can Consult in the BioRxiv repository.

Change in the rules of the game

Joerg Bewersdorf, also a co-author on the study, argues that Unclearing Microscopy could make microscopy research more accessible: “Powerful microscopes can cost $1 million or more, they need technical expertise to maintain themselves, and they require infrastructure. Unclearing Microscopy, on the other hand, could be carried out in the field cheaply, closing the funding gap between research centers.”

In this sense, Manu Prakash, a biologist at Stanford University who was not involved in the study, told The Scientist that “this technique is a game changer. Now you can do super-resolution microscopy without state-of-the-art microscopes and it gives the feeling that you can have visible cells in your hand.

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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