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Subcellular Nanosurgery
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Subcellular Nanosurgery

July 12, 2010
A time series of images taken with an optical microscope showing the selective disruption of actin filaments in living cells, with femtosecond laser pulses. Researchers severed single actin bundles inside live cells to probe the local dynamics of the cytoskeleton and correlate it to global changes in cell shape. Simultaneous cutting and imaging allows scientists to study immediate cellular response, with several hundred-nanometer spatial and less than 500-ms time resolution. The targeted actin bundle retracts rapidly after laser cutting as it releases its tensile energy. This illustration shows a time lapse of fluorescence microscope images of the actin network before and after laser irradiation. The retraction of the ends after laser irradiation is due to the pre-stress tension stored in the actin filaments. This research was performed by the Mazur Group, a research group in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Department of Physics at Harvard University under the direction of Eric Mazur. To learn more about this and other research, visit the visit the Mazur Group Web site. [Research supported by National Science Foundation grants PHY 05-55583 and DMR 02-13805.] (Date of Image: 2007)