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Published on : Feb 12, 2015

For the very first time X-ray portraits of bacteria (living) have been captured by researchers and scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. This has been the very first steps towards probable explorations of X-rays of molecular machinery in the fields of study such as photosynthesis, viral infections, cell division, and other mechanisms that hold importance in the areas of human health, biology, and the environment. The scientists have developed unique ways of exploring, sorting, and analyzing samples, with a certain possibility of looking out for higher resolutions apart from the other methods of study. According to an experienced biophysics professor, this could be a path breaking game-changer.

The main focus of the experiment is one cyanobacteria; a type of algae that is abundantly found. In fact it was this blue green form of algae that changed the very atmosphere of the earth almost 2.5 billion years back, with the release of oxygen that was breathable and this gave way to the formation and the creation of newer life forms on earth. Cyanobacteria play a very crucial role in various cycles of the earth that pertain to nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon. The researchers sprayed these living bacteria into a thin humid gas stream via a device that is gun-like. 

When the cyanobacteria were sprayed into the stream it was observed that that they actually remained intact and alive. When these bacteria passed through the rapid-fire X-ray pulses, that were ultrabright, the detector was able to record different diffraction patterns. As a result of this, these patterns were able to retain the details of the cyanobacteria that had been accumulated together earlier for reconstructing the two dimensional images.