As the laser scans the sample, numerous images extracted by holography are captured by a digital camera, assembled by a computer and "deconvoluted" in order to eliminate noise. To develop their algorithm, the young scientists designed and built a "calibration" system in the school's clean rooms (CMI) using a thin layer of aluminum that they pierced with 70nm-diameter "nanoholes" spaced 70nm apart.
Finally, the assembled three-dimensional image of the cell, that looks as focused as a drawing in an encyclopedia, can be virtually "sliced" to expose its internal elements, such as the nucleus, genetic material and organelles.
Toy and Cotte, who have already obtained an EPFL Innogrant, have no intention of calling a halt to their research after such a promising beginning. In a company that's in the process of being created and in collaboration with the startup Lynce SA, they hope to develop a system that could deliver these kinds of observations in vivo, without the need for removing tissue, using portable devices. In parallel, they will continue to design laboratory material based on these principles. Even before its official launch, the start-up they're creating has plenty of work to do - and plenty of ambition, as well.
|Contact: Yann Cotte|
Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne