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Using a synchrotron to get high resolution images of cells

Narrator:       This is Science Today. The Advanced Light Source, or ALS, at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is a synchrotron, which is basically an instrument that accelerates electrons close to the speed of light. Carolyn Larabell, Director of the National Center for X-ray Tomography at the Berkeley Lab, says the synchrotron gives them the ability to use a 72-foot long microscope to image cells at very high resolutions.

Larabell:        The actual business into the microscope is only about fifteen feet long, so it's a lot of tubes getting that light source to the specimen. We have the capacity to look at any cell or tissue up to about fifteen microns thick. The other thing it does uniquely is give us 3D views of the cells and from all angles.

Narrator:       While they're currently conducting biomedical research using this technology, Larabell says they can also work on bioenergy projects.

Larabell:        You can look at algae cells, for example, and the effects of various manipulations on alage to try to get them to produce hydrocarbons.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.