Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Rewriting Life

Death of a Cell

Capturing a cell’s “last gasp.”

Scientists at the University of Manchester have recorded a cell’s final pulse of electrical activity. As part of an experiment to understand cellular signaling mechanisms, the researchers built an array of charge-sensitive semiconductor electrodes and placed a yeast cell on top of it (left). The researchers detected variations between charge readings from the electrodes, measuring the flow of ions that cells need to stay alive. After dousing the cell with ethanol to make its electrical activity easier to detect, physicist Andre Geim measured ion flow to a resolution of about 10 ions. Sadly, the ethanol killed the cell. The last detectable ion reading “was probably the last gasp,” Geim says.

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.