The genesis and petrology of kidney stones

Posted on 02.02.2016
Kidney stone image

This polished slice of a kidney stone looks like diamonds when polarized light (vibrating in only two-directions similar to polarizing sun glasses) is used to illuminate a kidney stone wafer only a 4 millionths of a meter (micrometers) in thickness. A new generation of microscopy allows the observation of layering in kidney stone crystal fans at a scale of only 10’s to 100’s of a billionth of a meter (nanometers), an astounding spatial resolution that until recently was inaccessible with visible transmitted light.

Prof. Bruce Fouke is working with a team of researchers to better understand kidney stone formation.  The work is part of the collaborative Mayo Clinic and University of Illinois Alliance for Technology-Based Healthcare research project on kidney stone genesis with Dr. John Lieske, Dr. Amy Krambeck, Dr. Nick Chia and Jessica Saw. The project involves both advanced petrography of the stones and research into the role of microbes in their deposition- a unique combination of approaches honed by the Fouke group over years of studying carbonate deposition in hot springs!

Photograph by Mayandi Sivaguru and Bruce W. Fouke. Image was collected on a Zeiss Inverted Apotome Microscope housed in the Microsocopy Core Facility of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


kidney stone photomicrograph