Nanoscale Imaging of Biomolecules in Zero G

Expansion microscopy (ExM) is a new imaging modality developed by MIT Media Lab's Synthetic Neurobiology group. ExM allows biomolecules to be imaged at nanoscale resolution on conventional, high-speed, diffraction limited optics by synthesizing a swellable polymer network within the sample and thereby physically separating objects of interest isotropically. In the past, we were able to expand the brain tissue 4-20 times in the lateral dimension, achieving 20-90 nm resolution with affordable optics, including a webcam – achieving ~90nm resolution. Considering that existing optics needed for such high resolutions require bulky, expensive parts subject to misalignment and irreversible damage in a physically demanding condition like a spaceship, ExM has the potential to be the most affordable solution for nanoscale imaging of biomolecules in the reduced gravity environment. We aim to demonstrate its claimed feasibility through the project.