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Super-resolution analysis tool built by Luxembourg scientists

Monday, October 19, 2015 - 01:44

Scientists in Luxembourg combine an ultra powerful microscope with a super resolution analysis instrument to create a device that can produce images 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Matthew Stock reports.

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A microscope that produces images a hundred-thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair wasn't quite enough for Dr David Dowsett. At the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), Dowsett and his team added a specially designed prototype spectrometer. They say their secondary ion mass spectrometer - or SIMS - analysis tool, is one of the most powerful in the world. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. DAVID DOWSETT, SENIOR RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATE AT THE LUXEMBOURG INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "A human hair is about 50 to 100 microns in diameter. The resolution of our microscope images is half a nanometer and the resolution of our SIMS images is about 10 nanometres. So, that's about 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair." And it's attracting interest from big business for it's immense imaging and chemical mapping capabilities... including from cosmetic companies. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. DAVID DOWSETT, SENIOR RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATE AT THE LUXEMBOURG INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "So when they say 'this is the science bit' - that's actually us. We've worked for a least one of the big pharmaceutical companies developing shampoo, so looking at whether the shampoo really penetrates into the hair." The precision tool's impact could be huge for many industries, including the development of new semiconductors and Lithium ion batteries. It could also play a vital role in the the improvement and development of medicine. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. DAVID DOWSETT, SENIOR RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATE AT THE LUXEMBOURG INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "We can follow where those nanoparticles have been uptaken into, for example, human cells. And also we can see whether or not a labelled drug is present within the cell, in the same place as the nanoparticle; so we can really start to test whether a delivery system is effective." Dowsett and his team are now working on an improved version of the device and investigating possibilities to commercialise the development.

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Super-resolution analysis tool built by Luxembourg scientists

Monday, October 19, 2015 - 01:44