An improvement in magnetic resonance imaging has allowed scientists to view a virus that measures just 18 nanometers across, a study in the early version of PNAS reports. A group led by linkurl:Dan Rugar; of the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif. used magnetic resonance force microscopy to detect changes in the spins of hydrogen nuclei, a resolution 100 million times better than conventional MRI, allowing them to peer at individual tobacco mosaic virus particles. The technique also provides unprecedented views of the virus's three dimensional structure. "I think it's very spectacular work, it's really pushing the limits of imaging," said linkurl:Fedor Jelezko,; a physicist at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, who was not involved in the study.

An artistic view of the magnetic tip (blue) interacting with the virus particles at the end of the cantilever.

Currently, people use a grab bag of techniques ranging from x-ray...

Image courtesy of IBM

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