Analysing cells on a cell-by-cell basis using infrared microspectroscopy can reveal important biochemical information, providing insight into diseases, and drug-cell interactions. However, for visible and infrared microscopy, the cells have to be preserved and dried; also, water is a strong infrared absorber and obscures the spectrum of the cells under investigation. Analysing dried fixed cells reduces the relevance of the results since they are not in their natural environment.
Researchers investigated building a sample environment that would allow the cells to be kept alive in water during infrared microspectroscopy analysis. The sample chamber needed an amount of water small enough to not be a major problem, but large enough to allow the correct flow of nutrients to the cells, to keep them alive for a prolonged period of time. It also had to be temperature-controlled.
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