Ultrasound Probe Views the Inside of Cells

January
2018

Peering inside living cells just got a little easier. A new ultrasound probe allows researchers to see down to the nanoscale within cells in real time without staining or dyes.

The imaging technique could have a variety of applications, from tracking the delivery of drug-carrying nano-particles within cells to investigating the biomechanics of the smallest biological structures. It could even be used in the semiconductor industry as an easy way to search for defects in semiconductor materials, says Gajendra Shekhawat, a materials scientist at Northwestern Univ. and one of the lead developers of the new probe.

Typically, confocal microscopy, in which lasers excite fluorescent dyes in a sample, is used to make three-dimensional (3D) images of the structures within cells. But the diffraction of visible light limits that technique’s resolution to 100 nm. Shekhawat and his team wanted a method that could resolve even smaller structures — without requiring...

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