Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have discovered a new synchrotron-based imaging technique – with a million times brighter intensity than sunlight – that offers high-resolution pictures of the molecular composition of tissues with unprecedented speed and quality.
According to Carol Hirschmugl and Michael Nasse, the technique called ‘Infrared Environmental Imaging (IRENI)’ employs multiple beams of synchrotron light to illuminate a state-of-the-art camera, instead of just one beam.
IRENI cuts the amount of time needed to image a sample from hours to minutes, while quadrupling the range of the sample size and producing high-resolution images of samples that do not have to be tagged or stained as they would for imaging with an optical microscope.
“Since IRENI reveals the molecular composition of a tissue sample, you can choose to look at the distribution of functional groups, such as proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. So you concurrently get detailed structure and chemistry,” said Hirschmugl.
The technique could have broad applications not only in medicine, but also in pharmaceutical drug analysis, art conservation, forensics, biofuel production, and advanced materials, such as graphene, she said.
It opens the door for development of synchrotron-based imaging that can monitor cellular processes, from simple metabolism to stem cell specialization.
The report has been published online in Nature Methods.