Cell biologists develop camera with less haste, more speed

Posted by pt91 at Aug 30, 2012 12:43 PM |
Researchers at the University have developed a new form of digital microscope which can create an image 100 times faster than regular equipment – without losing image quality.

The research was led by Professor Nick Hartell, of the University’s Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology, who plans to use the new device for his own work studying the cell mechanisms involved in the brain’s storage of memories.

It works by projecting patterns of illumination onto the specimen, and only light that is precisely in the plane of focus returns along the same path and is reflected by a mirror onto the camera to form an image. Unwanted light that comes from regions of the specimen which are out of focus are rejected, improving the image quality.

The resulting images can be scanned on a computer at around 100 frames per second, showing biological processes such as cell activity at much higher speeds than regular microscopes - which tend to be capped at around 1 frame per second.

The researchers believe this technology will be a big help to those working in many scientific fields, including biomedical research and neuroscience.

The project of creating the device lasted for three years and was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), which has also provided funding for the team to develop the device as a commercial product.