The university is in my blood—literally

A researcher at the University of Utah has etched his school's logo onto his red blood cells, Kelly Gifford reports for the Salt Lake Tribune.

As a doctoral researcher in the University of Utah's nanotechnology research and analysis laboratory, Randall Polson had access to microscopes and other lab equipment, Gifford writes. He had been working on using a precision beam to analyze and etch metal in microchips. But he was curious to see if the etching would work on soft tissue as well, according to Gifford.

Polson pricked his finger, put a drop of blood on the beam of the electron microscope, and proceeded to draw a U-shape on the cells using the beam. In the end, he had etched the University of Utah's logo on 20 to 30 of his red blood cells.

Polson took a photo of the cells with an ion beam tool and proudly titled it "The U is in my blood." He colored the black-and-white image with software similar to Photoshop, Gifford writes. Later, he decided to submit his project to a contest hosted by the manufacturer of the beam he used (the contest closes on December 31, 2017 and a winner will be announced next year).

His other plans? Polson hopes his approach to using the ion beam on soft tissue could be useful to other researchers. "It could spark someone's imagination," he says (Gifford, Salt Lake Tribune, 8/30; FEI Image Contest rules, accessed 9/7).

Also see: The Ig Nobels—awards for research that makes people laugh… and then think


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