University of Salford Manchester

Polarisation prototype for most accurate, non-invasive imaging of cells yet

Monday 2 July 2012
Cardiovascular cells
The picture shows some cardiovascular cells. The circle indicates a typical area probed by the spot analysis system for the proof-of-concept experiment- the diameter of the probe area is about a third to a fourth of the thickness of a human hair.
Researchers at the University of Salford have used a technique based on the polarisation of light to demonstrate highly sensitive measurements of cardiovascular cell dynamics which could lead to a working machine conducting the most accurate, non-invasive imaging of cells yet.
The team from the University’s Joule Physics Laboratory in the School of Computing, Science & Engineering is using the minute changes in the polarisation of light that occur when cells are hit with a beam of light to carry out spot analysis on individual cells.

Unlike other techniques which use dyes and other tagging chemicals to monitor cell dynamics, the method used by the University means that cells are not damaged or in any way altered whilst being examined.

At present the team is looking for funding to turn their prototype – which produces numerical data – into one that is capable of displaying dynamic images of the cells.

There are many medical applications for the new technology including observations of how drugs affect the dynamics of cellular processes.

Dr Tiehan Shen, who leads the research in close collaboration with colleague Dr Paul Cook, said: “Quantitative analysis of polarisation of light in imaging is a relatively unexplored area of technology, but has many potential applications ranging from biology, materials to astronomy.”

Dr Shen added: “With funds to develop this technology we can open up an exciting range of applications which will be beneficial to many different fields. I’m convinced that it could potentially revolutionise the way we look at the world around us.”

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