A team over at Germany’s Helmholtz Zentrum München, led by Dr. Vasilis Ntziachristos, has created a new technique for imaging relatively large and thick biological samples. Using lasers and an ultrasound machine, they can examine the detailed structure of an organism (this first test used a zebra fish) and create a complex 3-D map.
Unlike a microscope that detects light, this new system uses an ultrasound machine to detect minute disturbances in the tissue caused by the laser’s ability to affect the temperature of its target. In this case, that target is a fluorescent dye injected into the subject. After the data has been collected and analyzed, a coherent 3-D image can be constructed.
Subject (fish) injected with dye –> Lasers scan the subject –> Dye responds to lasers –> Disruptions detected by ultrasound –> SCIENCE –> Incredible 3-D image
While i09 called this an advance in microbiology, which it is, it really falls into the field of microscopy or “bioimaging.” Scientists have a great deal of control over biological systems, but sometimes observing changes in those systems is difficult. New techniques in bioimaging such as this one allow scientists to clearly obvserve cell and tissue phenomena after an experiment has run its course.