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We're doing WHAT?

OK, that you can use IR lasers for pinpoint heating is not all that surprising, but studying molecular biochemistry at the single molecule level, now that's impressive!

Some Like It Hot: How to Heat a 'Nano Bathtub'

ScienceDaily (July 31, 2010) — Researchers at JILA have demonstrated the use of infrared laser light to quickly and precisely heat the water in "nano bathtubs" -- tiny sample containers -- for microscopy studies of the biochemistry of single molecules and nanoparticles.

Described in a new paper, the JILA technique is faster, more controllable, and less prone to damaging expensive optics or accidentally altering chemistry than conventional methods using electric currents for bulk heating of microscope stages, optics and samples. The demonstration extends a technique used to study single living cells to the field of single-molecule microscopy. Fast, noncontact heating of very small samples is expected to enable new types of experiments with single molecules. For example, sudden, controlled jumps in temperature could be used to activate molecular processes and observe them in real time.

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