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Exploring the Interface Between Metals and Life

Our goal is to develop novel analytical and imaging technologies that enable biomedical research teams to image changes in metal localization in a quantitative manner from the cellular level to tissue and whole animal levels. The Quantitative Elemental Mapping for the Life Sciences (QE-Map) will integrate multiple technologies to create transformative approaches to answer compelling biological questions about the functions of metals and other essential elements in health and disease.

Technology Research and Development 1


Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) is being used to develop multi-element 2D and 3D images of singe cell and tissues. LA-ICP-MS provides many beneficial capabilities including low detection limits (µg/g), full elemental mass spectrum coverage, high spatial resolution, limited sample preparation, wide linear dynamic range, and ability to analyze whole tissue sections relatively rapidly (minutes to hours).

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Technology Research and Development 2


Synchrotron x-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM) provides capabilities that include the potential for 10 nm resolution, 3D imaging, whole cell and tissue capabilities while also providing high sensitivity. Learn more about improvements to sampling handling methods including the integration of XFM samples with LA-ICP-TOF-MS and improvements to the speed and cost effectiveness of image alignment, reconstruction, and quantitation methods.

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Technology Research and Development 3

Photoacoustic Microscopy (PAM)

Photoacoustic Microscopy (PAM) is only technology available that can image intrinsic optical absorption in three dimensions with a high spatial resolution. The system being developed will allow imaging of both frozen and live tissues with simultaneous data acquisition from PAM and confocal microcopy and the development of dyes that undergo chromophoric changes upon metal binding.

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participating institutions

Northwestern University

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Michigan State University

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Argonne National Laboratory

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