Nano-CT creates microscopic view of biological structures

Computer tomography (CT) has produced stunning images and improved diagnosis and treatment of myriad health complications. A German research team has developed an imaging technique called nano-CT that produces images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers, a marketed improvement from the 500 nm in traditional CT methods.

The research, led by Mark Müller with the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Garching, Germany, was published Nov. 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The team used a new x-ray source with a focused beam and low-noise detector.

"Our system has decisive advantages compared to CTs using x-ray optics," said Müller. "We can make tomographies of significantly larger samples and we are more flexible in terms of the materials that can be investigated."

The team hopes to use the system for more projects as the technology develops.

"In the future, this technology will also make biomedical investigations possible,” said Franz Pfeiffer, co-author of the study. “Thus, for example, we will be able to examine tissue samples to clarify whether or not a tumor is malignant. A non-destructive and three-dimensional image of the tissue with a resolution like that of the Nano-CT can also provide new insights into the microscopic development of widespread illnesses such as cancer."

Watch a video of the velvet worm captured with the nano-CT technique.