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August 12th, 2007
MIT researchers have designed a microscope for generating three-dimensional movies of live cells. The microscope, which works like a cellular CT scanner, will let scientists watch how cells behave in real time at a greater level of detail. This new device overcomes a trade-off between resolution and live action that has hindered researchers' ability to examine cells and could lead to new methods for screening drugs.
Cells can't be examined under a traditional microscope because they don't absorb very much visible light. So the MIT microscope relies on another optical property of cells: how they refract light. As light passes through a cell, its direction and wavelength shift. Different parts of the cell refract light in different ways, so the MIT microscope can show the parts in all their detail.
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