3D imaging with Ion-Abrasion SEM
The delicate swirls of pink and gold in this image could have come from Botticelli’s brush, but there’s nothing angelic about the subject, a melanoma cell. It is seen here by an ionabrasion scanning electron microscope that uses a method of 3D imaging being developed at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The microscope sends beams of gallium ions across an object, blasting away layers of the surface 20 nanometers at a time. By scanning each newly created surface, the microscope can compile three-dimensional images with unprecedented detail and resolution, says image creator Donald Bliss, a medical illustrator at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. The images show almost too much detail—“It’s like looking at a bowl of spaghetti suspended in clear Jell-O,” he says—so Bliss chose to highlight some of the data. Here, he shows the nucleus as the dark sphere, engulfed by mitochondria (in pink) and endoplasmic reticulum (in gold). (nsf.gov)
Because of the unique technique, the picture got an honorable mention during Science Magazine’s 2008 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.
Credit : Donald Bliss and Sriram Subramaniam, National Library of Medicine, NIH