Using Diamonds to Measure Temperatures Inside a Living Cell

nano-meter scale temperature measurement

Researchers at Harvard University are reporting on a groundbreaking technique that gives access to real-time temperatures inside live cells. Most of the techniques for measuring temperature at nano-meter scales, such as scanning probe microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and fluorescence based measurements face drawbacks such as low sensitivity and errors. The new technique reported in Nature indicates the use of embedded nano-diamonds, where by using precision spectroscopy the quantum mechanical spin associated with its nitrogen-vacancy helps in calculating temperatures. The technique was found to be sensitive, robust and combines virtues such as biocompatibility, subdegree thermal sensitivity and submicrometer spatial resolution. The researchers hope that this technique could help in measurement and control of gene expression and chemical reactions inside living cells. The researchers also hope that one day this could help detection of tumors and also in killing malignant cells without damaging the surrounding cells.

Read more about the technique on Nature (doi:10.1038/nature12373)

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