Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI is now a common technique in modern medince and neurobiology. This technique is extremely useful since one can generate 3D morphological data without using radiation (X-ray, etc.) One of the major issues with using MRI is the lack of resolution beyond the micrometer range. Thus the ability to push MRI into the nanometer scale is of major interest to structural biologists interested in macromolecule interactions or molecular complexes for proteins or molecules that are difficult to crystallize.
In the latest issue of PNAS, Degan et. al have overcome the nanometer barrier by combining "ultrasensitive magnetic resonance force microscopy (MRFM) with 3D image reconstruction to achieve magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with resolution <10 nm." This allowed them to image individual tobacco mosaic virus particles with a "100 million-fold improvement in volume resolution over conventional MRI." Thus setting the stage for a structural biology revolution without crystallization of protein complexes.