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Application of the nano3DX X-ray microscope to biological specimens

Winter 2020, Volume 36, No. 1
Naoki Kunishima

Structural biology aims to understand life from observation of relevant biological structures and then to extend that knowledge to advance medicine, pharmaceutical development and so on. Because biological systems generally have hierarchical structures, the observation of biological systems varies in size range whether one is looking at tissue level structures, cellular structures or at molecular structures. Observation of these various biological samples is currently accomplished using various methodologies, including electron microscopy and visible-light microscopy. In this report, we will discuss an X-ray imaging of structures that range in size down to sub-micrometers. The nano3DX from Rigaku is a laboratory-based high-resolution X-ray microscope that uses a high-brilliance X-ray generator, a quasi-parallel beam technology and a high-resolution X-ray camera.

A major benefit of X-ray microscopes is their ability to examine thick specimens by taking advantage of the high permeability of X-rays to observe a sample’s inner structure. X-ray microscopy bears a complementary relationship to other methodologies like electron microscopy that affords high resolution but is not suitable for thick specimens and light microscopy that allows live imaging of specimens. Further developments continue in the area X-ray microscopy, particularly for biological applications.


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