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Scientists offer ‘seeing’ device to check nanomaterials and treat diseases

Russian nanobiotech specialists have combined a range of existing microscopy techniques to develop an instrument that enables nano-level research into an object’s 3D structure and optical properties, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The project developers are scientists from MEPhI National Research Nuclear University’s nano- and bioengineering laboratory and also from SNOTRA, a private company. The Moscow-based team believes that “the technology will help check the quality of new nanomaterials and drugs and also diagnose diseases and monitor therapies.”

The project has been described in a recent publication in ACS Nano, an international scientific journal.

Traditionally, to look into nanodimensional structures scanning microscopes are used. The method, however, gives a 2D image only, thus denying a researcher any knowledge of the object’s bulk structure. Anton Efimov, the founder of SNOTRA, earlier found a solution to address the deficiency by cutting the object into very thin layers and scanning each layer separately.

The developers of this most recent project offer a device that not only cuts the object under study but also conducts spectroscopy of its layers, making it possible to determine the composition of the object by the way it reflects or absorbs light.

“We have designed an instrument which is a 3D nanodimension-resolution microscope and a high-quality microspectroscope all in one,” explained Konstantin Mochalov of MEPhI’s nano- and bioengineering laboratory who’s one of the project developers.

With the new device a scientist may expect, for example, to study the sections of a living tissue and virtually ‘see’ how the molecules of a drug administered to fight a disease are distributed across the sections.

The project team hopes to find a company willing to invest in the serial manufacture of the new instrument. 

2013-09-09, Marchmont News.

Keywords: biotechnologies, nanotechnologies, science

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