While conducting research, scientists have never been able to capture accurate image of a virus’ insides without freezing or slicing it open. With the introduction of the Linac Coherent Light Source, an X-ray free-electron laser which is a billion times brighter than any previous X-ray source, that all changes. Now they can look at viruses while they’re in action, opening up all sorts of possibilities for future research.
According to Gizmag, the LCLS, which is powerful enough to blast through steel, only emits a beam for a “few millionths of a billionth” of a second, and destroys whatever it is imaging in the process of capturing said image. But it’s allowing researchers to see things they’ve never seen before in the process.
Scientists sprayed live mimivirus particles in non-crystalized form into the LCLSbeam, and got two images showing the external shell of the viruses, along with their insides, which a team of Stanford researchers are trying to determine if the virus core contains genetic material or not. They believe this breakthrough will help them acquire video of moving viruses and microbes, and “revolutionize the study of life.” [Gizmag]