Beyond the Naked Eye
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This image illuminates the contours and difference in densities of a seemingly contourless and homogeneously uniform hydrogel. The image is a fluorescence composite of three wavelengths that allow for the boundaries and area within the hydrogel to differ from the featureless transparent image seen by the naked eye. My research uses fluorescence spectroscopy to probe the internal structure of the hydrogel to see how it influences diffusion of biomolecules. These gels at the naked eye level appear to be solid with a defined shape, but taking a deep look at the microscale level reveals the solvent-like properties that permit selective movement of biomolecules. These properties, as well as others, allow hydrogels to be used in a variety of medical applications, such as tissue engineering. Also, as we utilize techniques to provide us with more insight into an image, like the one above, the array of opportunities and applications of the hydrogel will continue to grow.