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Wrap bacteria in graphene for better images

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Wrapping bacteria in graphene can turn up better images.

Researchers at Kansas State University have found a clever way to get better images: They made a graphene cloak for bacteria.

According the the scientists:

The process has potential to influence future research. Scientists have always had trouble observing liquid samples under electron microscopes, but using carbon cloaks could allow them to image wet samples in a vacuum. Graphene's strong and impermeable characteristics ensure that wrapped cells can be easily imaged without degrading them. Berry said it might be possible in the future to use graphene to keep bacterium alive in a vacuum while observing its biochemistry under a microscope.

The new microscope allows the bacteria to be imaged with an electron microscope - and it can do this with better resolution and allows them to retain their size. Conventional microscopes shrink bacteria. The graphene makes the cells keep the water in, and helps cells keep their size when examined by electron microscopes, the scientists report.

Graphene is a good conductor of heat and electricity, and it's this property that gives scientists a clear view of what's going on inside the bacterial cell walls.

This microscope could really help with enhanced protein microscopy, where proteins can be studied in wet phases. Normally, the protein must be dried out before they can be seen under a microscope.

Oh graphene. It's that super material that never ceases to amaze us.

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure