Understanding the structure of microbial cells is very important as it allows specific drugs to be developed to target specifics areas of these organisms. Although the layout of bacteria and viruses are very well known, that of fungi, despite being bigger, are much more complicated and so being able to look at the chemical makeup of these cells is still complicated. One of the most common ways is to use a chemical labeler to help analyse the structure of the cell walls but this obviously taints the sample and so another method is sorely needed.
The new method that has been designed applies Raman scattering which I talked about briefly here:
But I will elaborate slightly further. When the photons are fired into the chemical they can gain energy from areas of excitation in the system. This loss and gain of energy affects the frequency of the otherwise monochromatic photons and so the vibrational state (which is unique for each molecule) can be observed. By using a slightly more advanced version researchers were able to map the 3D structure of various fungal cell walls. This type of imaging could be used in the future for non intrusive disease diagnostics and generate improved understanding of cell structure.