Skip to Content

Eye on Cells

New cell imaging technology could give researchers an insight into complicated diseases
January 1, 2007

In physicist Michael Feld’s MIT lab, researchers watch red blood cells vibrating and undulating in real time, thanks to a technology known as quantitative phase imaging. The technology splits a light wave in two, passes one wave through a cell, and then recombines it with the other wave.

Quantitative phase imaging can depict red blood cells (shown above) with 0.2-nanometer resolution.

Analyzing the resulting interference pattern provides a remarkable view of living, moving cells not possible with electron microscopy, which requires careful sample preparation. Researchers in Feld’s lab are studying the dynamics of red blood cells’ membranes to gain insight into diseases such as malaria, leukemia, and sickle-cell anemia. Others are studying neuron dynamics. And while the MIT group has produced images with an astonishing 0.2-­nanometer resolution, Feld ultimately hopes to create 3-D images of the inner structures of living cells, too.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.