Assistant professor of chemical engineering at Kansas State University, Vikas Berry and his team are enfolding bacteria in graphene to solve issues concerned with imaging bacteria on electron microscopes.
The team develops a carbon cloak to safeguard the bacteria and capturing images at their natural size, and enhancing the picture resolution.
Graphene is one atom thick and is erosion-resistant, and being a tough nanomaterial, it is visually transparent and has high thermal conductance. After three years of research, the team recently discovered a connection between graphene and cell imaging. The material is impermeable, allowing it to save the bacterial cells size of images captured with the high-vacuum electron microscopes. The report has been published in a paper titled ‘Impermeable Graphenic Encasement of Bacteria’, in Nano Letters recently by the American Chemical Society.
The high vacuum microscopes absorb water from the cells. Biological cells contain 70 to 80% of water, so this method shrivels the cell considerably. It is therefore difficult to capture perfect images of these cells. The graphene applied to these cells covers them like an impregnable cloak helping them to retain water and their size and shape even under e high vacuum in electron microscopes. This method delivers a microscopic image of natural dimensions.
Two methods can be used to wrap the bacteria in the cloak. A graphene sheet can be placed over the bacteria like a bedsheet. Alternately, the cells could be wrapped into the bacteria. A protein was added to the graphene to bind it to the cells. This allowed them to retain their size and shape for about half an hour, allowing scientists to examine them closely under the microscope. The material allows for better picture clarity.It is also a good conductor of heat and electricity. These features allow for a clear image of the cell, which otherwise would have appeared dark and unclear.