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October 6th, 2003
Lasers operate inside single cells
With pulses of intense laser light a millionth of a billionth of a second long, US researchers are vaporizing tiny structures inside living cells without killing them. The technique could help probe how cells work, and perform super-precise surgery. Physicist Eric Mazur of Harvard University and his colleagues have severed parts of cells' internal protein skeleton, have destroyed a single mitochondrion, the cell's powerhouse, leaving its hundreds of neighbours untouched, and have cut a nerve cell's connection without killing it. They christen their technique laser nanosurgery.
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