'Limitless' microscope to aid virus research
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Wednesday 02 March 2011
An optical microscope that uses light and is so powerful that it can capture living viruses and be used to view the working biological machinery that keeps human cells alive has been invented by British scientists.
The microscope exploits a new method of manipulating light so that there is, theoretically, no limit on the size of a living feature that can be seen by the human eye, the Manchester University researchers said.
Unlike the most powerful electron microscopes – which can see down to the scale of individual molecules – or fluorescent-based microscopes – which rely on the use of coloured dyes – the new light microscope does not need to interfere in any way with the living material it is used to study.
"Seeing inside a cell directly without [using dyes] and seeing living viruses directly could revolutionise the way cells are studied and allow us to examine closely viruses and biomedicine for the first time," Professor Lin Li, of Manchester University, said.
"This is a world record in terms of how small an optical microscope can go by direct imaging under a light source covering the whole range of optical spectrum."
The device overcomes a physical limitation on the use of light for microscopy and, in doing so, can capture details that are 20 times smaller than the tiniest objects seen by conventional light microscopes, which are limited by the physical wave length of light in the optical spectrum. Previously, optical microscopes could see down to a minimum scale of one micrometre, or 0.001 millimetres. But by combining optical microscopy with a transparent "microsphere" for extra magnification, the scientists were able to see down to a scale of just 50 nanometres, which is 20 times smaller than the previous limit of optical microscopy.
"We believe that is just the start and we will be able to see far smaller items," Professor Li said.
"Theoretically, there is no limit on how small an object we will be able to see."
- 3 Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...