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December 5, 2016 AT 9:00 am

A New Technique Brings Color to Electron Microscope Images of Cells

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Exciting development via SmithsonianMagazine.

Bringing color to electron microscope images is a tricky problem. It could plausibly be said that color doesn’t exist at that scale, because the things imaged by an electron microscope are smaller than the wavelength of visible light. But that hasn’t stopped scientists from trying, or at least developing techniques to approximate it.

The latest, described in an article in Cell by scientists from the University of California, San Diego, attaches artificial color to biological structures, which could help us better understand the structures and functions within cells. They’re the first to use this method on organic material, matching up to three colors and making, in one example, a Golgi region appear green and a plasma membrane red.

“It adds a lot of additional information to conventional electron microscopy,” says Stephen Adams, lead author of the paper. “We hope it will be a general technique that people will use for this very high resolution mapping of any molecule, really, that they want to.”

Read more.


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