The shock wave is photographed as it passes through a cell with improved nanosecond imaging technology

Observation of underwater shock waves through biological cells. (A and B) STAMP movies with nine frames and an interval of 1.5 ns showing the propagation of underwater shock waves with (B) and without (A) a HeLa cell. Scale bar, 10 m. Credit: Advances in Science (2023). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adj8608

A microscopic shock wave has been photographed passing through a biological cell, thanks to a new photography technique. Nanosecond photography uses ultrafast electronic cameras to capture images at a speed of one billionth of a second. However, image quality and exposure time are often limited.

Now, a team led by researchers at the University of Tokyo has achieved excellent images taken over multiple timescales at high speed using a system they call the spectrum circuit. The spectrum circuit bridges the gap between optical imaging and conventional electronic cameras, enabling photography at ultrafast speeds with less blur and more accuracy. This technology has potential applications for science, medicine and industry.

Timing can be everything in photography and capturing images at high speed poses a particular challenge. But thanks to advances in camera technology, these days we can see the world like never before. Whether it’s the sweat on the brow of a racing cyclist, the focus of the eyes of a swooping falcon or, with this latest development in nanosecond photography, the motion of a shock wave passing through a microscopic single cell at high speed.

The paper was published in the journal Advances in Science.

Laser ablation dynamics on multi-timescales. The propagation of the shock wave (2.0 ns interval with nine frames) and plasma (an average 25 ps interval with five frames) and the development of laser processing. (1 ms interval) is obtained. Credit: Advances in Science (2023). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adj8608

“For the first time in history, as far as we know, we directly observed the interaction between a biological cell and a shock wave, and the experiment showed that the speed of the shock wave propagating inside the cell is faster than outside the cell,” explains Takao Saiki, a doctoral student from the University of Tokyo’s Department of Precision Engineering.

“Furthermore, our method enables us to display high-speed images over a wide range of time, including picoseconds (one trillionth of a second), nanoseconds (one billionth of a second) and milliseconds. (one thousandth of a second. ) timescales.”

Getting clear images of cells without affecting their structure or causing damage is very difficult. To safely capture the images, the researchers developed a precision optical circuit, a circuit that uses light instead of electricity, which they named the spectrum circuit. With the spectrum circuit they generated harmless laser pulses, which they set to emit at different timings. By combining this technology with an existing single-shot optical imaging technique called sequentially timed all-optical mapping photography, or STAMP, they were able to capture a series of images with higher definition and less blur than before.

The team used the same technology to look at the effects of laser ablation on glass. Laser ablation is useful for precise removal of solid material from a surface and is used in industry and medicine. The researchers focused an ultrashort laser pulse 35 femtoseconds long (one femtosecond equals one quadrillionth of a second) at a glass plate. Using a spectrum circuit, they observed the effect of the laser, the resulting shock waves, and its effect on the glass in picoseconds, nanoseconds and milliseconds.

  • Shock wave imaged passing through a cell

    Images of laser ablation taken with an ultrawide time range, high-speed camera: Applying this new imaging technology, researchers can see the propagating shock wave and plasma and the progress of laser processing on multi-timescales ( about 10100 picoseconds, about 110 nanoseconds, and about 1100 milliseconds). Credit: 2023 Saiki et al./ CC BY NC

  • Shock wave imaged passing through a cell

    Less than a second: Picoseconds are the typical rate used in ultrafast optical imaging, while high-speed electronic cameras capture images at rates of milliseconds and microseconds. The research spectrum circuit system bridges the gap between these technologies, enabling us to see what happens between these time frames. Credit: 2023 Nicola Burghall / CC BY

“We can see the interplay between different physical processes that take place over time, and how they are formed,” said Keiichi Nakagawa, an associate professor from the Department of Bioengineering and the Department of Precision Engineering at the University of Tokyo. . “Our technology provides opportunities to reveal useful but unknown high-speed phenomena by enabling us to observe and analyze ultrafast processes.

“Next, we plan to use our imaging technique to visualize how cells interact with acoustic waves, such as those used in ultrasound and shock wave therapy. body.” The team also wants to use the spectrum circuit to improve laser processing techniques, by identifying physical parameters that enable faster, more accurate, more consistent and cost-effective manufacturing.

“We have always been fascinated by the power of imagination to understand complex phenomena. The opportunity to uncover and show parts of the world that were hidden before attracted us to this field,” said Nakagawa. “We expect to make many contributions in various fields, from biomedicine to manufacturing, materials, environment and energy.”

More information:
Takao Saiki et al, Single-shot optical imaging with spectrum circuit bridging timescales in high-speed photography, Advances in Science (2023). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adj8608

Provided by the University of Tokyo

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