The microscope, designed and built by Dr Gail McConnell, reader and RCUK academic fellow, and post-doctoral researcher Dr Wei Zhang, is said to use a less complex laser system than previously available for obtaining crucial, highly detailed images of cells, tissues and drugs.
This breakthrough is claimed to provide scientists with an easier and significantly cheaper method of obtaining necessary images for their work fighting cancer and neurological conditions, as well as for developing new drugs and treatments for a range of diseases.
Commenting on the microscope, Dr McConnell said: ’By producing chemically specific images of cells and tissue without adding potentially disruptive dyes, life-sciences researchers can visualise sub-cellular and cellular structures in three dimensions, and with minimum intervention.
’This opens up new vistas in live-cell imaging and provides biomedical researchers with the unparalleled ability to study biological function, which provides a unique insight into the fundamental spark of life.’
The microscope is said to remove the need to add fluorescent labelling normally required to allow scientists to see specific areas of interest within material, which saves time and money, and reduces the likelihood of the material becoming disrupted.
Through using the microscope system, together with the chemical properties of the materials themselves, high-definition three-dimensional images needed by scientists can be obtained.
Extending a known microscopy technique, the imaging platform adopts a simpler, less expensive approach using only one laser, and the levels of light involved are sufficiently low so as not to cause cell damage.
The microscope development was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council as part of its Technology Development Research Initiative programme in 2007.