From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Fluorescence Microscopy
Mains level : NA
Central idea: Researchers at Winona State University, Minnesota, have created a design for a rudimentary fluorescence microscope.
Why in news?
- The development can be put together at a cost of $30-50 (Rs 2,500-4,100) using products purchased on online marketplaces.
- The device aims to democratize access to fluorescence microscopy.
What is Fluorescence Microscopy?
- An optical microscope views an object by studying how it absorbs, reflects or scatters visible light.
- A fluorescence microscope views an object by studying how it reemits light that it has absorbed, i.e. how it fluoresces.
- The object is illuminated with light of a specific wavelength.
- Particles in the object absorb this light and reemit it at a higher wavelength.
- These particles are called fluorophores; the object is infused with them before being placed under the microscope.
How does it work?
- The setup consists of two plexiglass surfaces, an LED flashlight, three theatre stage-lighting filters, a clip-on macro lens, and a smartphone.
- The smartphone (with the lens attached) is placed on one surface that is suspended at a height (say, a foot above).
- The second sheet is placed below and holds the object.
- One of the stage-lighting filters is held between the flashlight and the object and the other two were held between the object and the smartphone.
- The sources of illumination were also LED flashlights emitting light of correspondingly different wavelengths.
- With this setup, the researchers were able to image the creatures’ brain, spinal cord, heart, and head and jaw bones.
- They were able to zoom in and out using the smartphone camera and the clip-on lens.
How accessible is this?
- Using a ‘glowscope’ still requires access to fluorophores, suitable biological samples, the know-how to combine the two, and some knowledge of physics to work out which LED flashlight to buy.
- The Foldscope was truly remarkable because all its required components were simple to understand.
- However, the fact that a simple fluorescent microscope can be set up with a few thousand rupees means researchers can prepare samples and take them to schools, where students can observe them.
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