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Biophys J. 2004 Dec;87(6):4180-7. Epub 2004 Oct 1.

Imaging cells and tissues with refractive index radiology.

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  • 1Institute of Physics, Academia Sinica, Nankang, Taipei, Taiwan.


Can individual cells, including live cells, be imaged using hard x rays? Common wisdom until now required sophisticated staining techniques for this task. We show instead that individual cells and cell details can be detected in culture solution and tissues with no staining and no other contrast-enhancing preparation. The sample examined can be much thicker than for many other microscopy techniques without sacrificing the capability to resolve cells. The key factor in our approach is the use of a coherent synchrotron source and of contrast mechanisms based on the refractive index. The first successful tests were conducted on a variety of cell systems including skin and internal leaf cells, mouse neurons, rabbit fibroblast cells, and human tumor cells.

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