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Life Left in Light

Light microscopes make a comeback.

Light microscopes have had a basic limitation: they couldn’t image objects smaller than half the wavelength of light itself, leaving cellular machines like mitochondria a blur. But electron microscopes work only on dead cells. A new generation of light microscopes has broken the resolution barrier and could revolutionize biology by letting scientists glimpse the molecular workings of living cells. Click here for four of the most promising examples.

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  • Here are four examples of images taken with new light microscopes.

This image of two cells preparing to divide was made by illuminating the cells with stripes of light called an interference pattern. The red clusters are DNA, and the green fibers are structural proteins that will help separate the cells.

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