Technology Features

  • Technology Feature |

    Genetically encoded voltage indicators change colour in real time when neurons transmit electrical information, offering unprecedented insight into neural activity.

    • Jyoti Madhusoodanan
  • Technology Feature |

    The tools of chemical biology, genomics and data mining can yield insights into the metabolites of the microbiome.

    • Esther Landhuis
  • Technology Feature |

    Some advocates are betting that documenting experimental plans online will improve animal research, but uptake has been slow.

    • Monya Baker
  • Technology Feature |

    A new breed of protein engineers is finding that the best way to create a molecule is to build it from scratch.

    • Jeffrey M. Perkel
  • Technology Feature |

    Do-it-yourself projects give researchers the equipment they need at bargain prices. But making your own technology requires commitment and time, and it is rarely easy.

    • Mike May
  • Technology Feature |

    In the age of immunotherapy, cancer biologists are relying on a new generation of tools to learn how the interplay between tumours and immune cells shapes the course of disease.

    • Michael Eisenstein
  • Technology Feature |

    The extracellular matrix governs a surprising number of cellular functions. New techniques are revealing how cells and matrix communicate — and why this cross-talk matters.

    • Jyoti Madhusoodanan
  • Technology Feature |

    From higher-resolution imaging to genome-sized DNA molecules built from scratch, the year ahead looks exciting for life-science technology.

    • Marissa Fessenden
  • Technology Feature |

    Techniques that render tissues as clear as glass and swell them to several times their original size are giving unprecedented access to the inner workings of biological systems.

    • Michael Eisenstein
  • Technology Feature |

    No longer just ‘brain glue’, astrocytes are coming to the fore as a broadening toolset reveals the cells’ complexity and diversity.

    • Esther Landhuis
  • Technology Feature |

    DNA sequencing is helping clinicians to unravel the underpinnings of disease in individual patients.

    • Michael Eisenstein
  • Technology Feature |

    As the imaging technique produces ever-sharper protein structures, researchers are racing to develop tools to assess how accurate they are.

    • Monya Baker
  • Technology Feature |

    Advances in gene editing are allowing researchers to create mouse models that more closely mirror the disease in humans.

    • Mike May
  • Technology Feature |

    Atomic force microscopy is revealing molecular structures with startling clarity. Artificial intelligence and automation could expand its potential.

    • Andy Extance
  • Technology Feature |

    A popular artificial-intelligence method provides a powerful tool for surveying and classifying biological data. But for the uninitiated, the technology poses significant difficulties.

    • Sarah Webb
  • Technology Feature |

    Thought leaders reveal the technologies and topics likely to transform life-science research in the year ahead.

    • Kendall Powell
  • Technology Feature |

    A small community of scientists has taken a do-it-yourself approach to microscopy: when the right tool for the job doesn’t exist, make it.

    • Brian Owens
  • Technology Feature |

    Ultrasonic energy can be harnessed to alter brain activity and treat disease — but first, scientists need to learn how it works.

    • Esther Landhuis
  • Technology Feature |

    Offering long reads and rapidly improving accuracy, nanopore sequencing has the potential to upend the DNA sequencing market.

    • Michael Eisenstein
  • Technology Feature |

    Improvements in mapping protein–protein interactions are allowing researchers to deconstruct the delicate mechanics of cells.

    • Marissa Fessenden
  • Technology Feature |

    Chemical probes and screening libraries can easily get mixed up or messed up, causing misleading results for unwary biologists.

    • Monya Baker
  • Technology Feature |

    After tackling the genomes of bacteria and yeast, synthetic biologists are setting their sights on rewriting those of more complex organisms, including humans.

    • Jeffrey M. Perkel
  • Technology Feature |

    Researchers are exploiting the structural properties of DNA to build nanoscale models for use in medicine and materials science.

    • XiaoZhi Lim
  • Technology Feature |

    Microfluidic devices filled with intricate channels that exploit fluid behaviour promise to make it easier to diagnose genetic disease.

    • Amber Dance
  • Technology Feature |

    Mobile phones are helping to take conventional laboratory-based science into the field, the classroom and the clinic.

    • Jeffrey M. Perkel
  • Technology Feature |

    Innovative tools are revealing the forces that guide cellular processes such as embryonic development and tumour growth.

    • Michael Eisenstein
  • Technology Feature |

    Innovative techniques are giving researchers unprecedented access to the inner workings of the immune system.

    • Rosie Mestel
  • Technology Feature |

    As researchers open up to the reality of RNA modification, an expanded epitranscriptomics toolbox takes shape.

    • Kelly Rae Chi
  • Technology Feature |

    Neuroscientists are starting to share and integrate data — but shifting to a team approach isn't easy.

    • Esther Landhuis
  • Technology Feature |

    Sensitive mass spectrometry and innovative cell-sampling techniques allow researchers to profile metabolites in single cells, but the field is still in its infancy.

    • Marissa Fessenden
  • Technology Feature |

    Neurobiologists are coming up with innovative ways to get high-resolution pictures of the whole brain at work.

    • Amber Dance
  • Technology Feature |

    Numerous variables can torpedo attempts to replicate cell experiments, from the batch of serum to the shape of growth plates. But there are ways to ensure reliability.

    • Monya Baker
  • Technology Feature |

    Structural biologists are at last living the dream of visualizing macromolecules to uncover their function. But it means integrating different technologies, and that's no easy feat.

    • Stephen Ornes
  • Technology Feature |

    Scientists are uncovering the hidden switches in our genome that dial gene expression up and down, but much work lies ahead to peel back the many layers of regulation.

    • Kelly Rae Chi
  • Technology Feature |

    Research into ageing requires patience, but a small cadre of scientists is angling to speed up answers by developing the flamboyant, short-lived turquoise killifish as a new model.

    • Amber Dance
  • Technology Feature |

    Ways to directly convert one mature cell type into another may eventually offer a safer, faster strategy for regenerative medicine.

    • Michael Eisenstein
  • Technology Feature |

    A suite of tools now enables scientists to see proteins at work in living cells at the single-molecule level.

    • Marissa Fessenden