A Water-Window Soft X-Ray Microscope for Small Laboratories

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1R43RR022488-01
Agency Tracking Number: RR022488
Amount: $99,320.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2006
Solicitation Year: 2006
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: PHS2006-2
Small Business Information
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 (781) 939-0763
Business Contact
Phone: (781) 939-0763
Research Institution
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Relevance: Soft x-ray microscopy is a fast, high resolution imaging technique for hydrated biological cells that is limited today by the need to use synchrotron light, available only at the National Laboratories. This project's goal is to develop a soft x-ray microscope using a compact source of soft x-rays that can be used in small biological laboratories for the rapid analysis of cells for disease identification and drug discovery. Project Summary: Soft X-Ray microscopy, using light in the so-called 'water-window' between 2.3 and 4.4 nanometer (nm) wavelength, allows imaging of frozen-hydrated biological cells, with high contrast between carbon containing proteins and water, with resolution down to 15nm, and with rapid sample turnaround. Energetiq Technology has developed a novel light source technology called an electrodeless z-pinch xenon plasma source, originally for use in the semiconductor fabrication industry at 13.5nm wavelength, that could provide a source of soft x-rays that would enable a lab-scale soft x-ray microscope. The cost of a soft x-ray microscope would be comparable to an electron microscope, but with a sample to image collection time reduced by a factor of more than 100. The project includes collaboration with expert researchers at the NYS Wadsworth Lab and Lawrence Berkeley Lab to 1) develop a detailed model for a small lab-scale microscope including the required brightness and linewidth required for the imaging, 2) modify the previously developed 13.5nm electrodeless z-pinch source, use nitrogen or other gases in place of xenon and measure the actual brightness and linewidth for emission lines in the 2.3nm to 4.4nm range using specilized power and spectral monitors, and 3) optimize the light source to demonstrate that the electrodeless-z pinch approach can produce sufficient soft x-ray light to provide hydrated cell images in an acceptable time. Subsequent phases of this research will be to leverage the soft x-ray microcope technology already developed for use on the synchrotrons into the development of a cost effective lab-scale microscope. Such a soft x-ray microscope would enhance the study of, for example, cell motility, mitosis and vesicular transport. The microscope would allow the more rapid imaging of labeled molecular components in optimally preserved specimens, thereby increasing the pace of cellular research.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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