Unleashing the Power of Advanced Microscopy Techniques

Advanced Microscopy Group

Advanced optical microscopy techniques allow biologists and physicians to visualize a dynamic sub-cellular world with nanometer accuracy. These include high resolution fluorescence imaging, super-resolution confocal microscopy and specialized spectroscopies.

These instruments vary the illumination of the specimen or fluorescence signal emitted from it, and image groups of molecules rather than single fluorescent signals (e.g., Structured Illumination Microscopy and Stimulated Emission Depletion Microscopy).

Core Facility

The core facility supports researchers in their quest to understand complex biological phenomena. It operates as an instrument park providing access to a range of cutting edge optical imaging techniques enabling the capture of multi-parametric feature spaces containing information about life at the nano, single-molecule and cellular resolution levels.

In addition to the actual maintenance of equipment (which requires expert knowledge) the core facility provides users with scientific advice and assistance at two different levels. Training of the fellows is one of these activities and it includes learning how to properly operate the microscopes and preparing samples for imaging as well as how to perform basic image analysis.

The facility also supports researchers in their project planning, sample preparation, microscope selection and use, and in the development of accessory software for microscopy and image data archiving. Furthermore, the facility focuses on developing new microscope systems and is involved in co-developments with industrial partners as well as pre-evaluation of commercial equipment.

Core Research Equipment (CoRE)

Optical microscopy is critical to a wide range of experimental questions in the life sciences. The core provides access to state of the art optical imaging equipment and expertise. This includes widefield fluorescence imaging microscopes, laser scanning confocal and spinning disk confocal multi-photon and light sheet microscopy, spectral unmixing, microscopic and macroscopic fluorescence lifetime imaging, second harmonic imaging, structured illumination super resolution, and high content live cell screening.

The facility also supports specialized techniques such as FRAP, FRET, FCS and laser nanosurgery. In addition the core provides expert advice on all aspects of microscopic imaging: planning a project, sample preparation, selection and use of the microscopes, image processing and analysis, data transfer and storage.

The CoRE is available to all researchers on a 24/7 basis. Please contact the core for help and training, and remember to acknowledge use of the core in your publications.

Advanced Microscopy Laboratories (AML)

Molecular biology and cell imaging are essential tools for understanding host-microbe interactions. Optical microscopy ranging from optical tomography and confocal techniques have long been an integral part of this toolkit.

More recently, advanced photon-based imaging approaches have contributed to new discoveries in plant pathology and beneficial microbial interaction. These include a family of imaging technologies that use pinhole based strategies to reject out-of-focus light, such as confocal microscopes (Cardinale and Berg 2015).

The ALMF is equipped with state of the art optical microscopy systems and image analysis software. It supports in-house scientists with projects involving imaging and provides assistance in project planning, sample preparation, selection and usage of the appropriate microscope, as well as with the subsequent image processing and visualisation. It also develops accessory software and microscopy equipment, co-develops with industrial partners and conducts pre-evaluation of commercial equipment. Its collection of 20 advanced microscope systems are used by over 100 labs on the North Quad Campus.

Electron Microscopy (TEM/STEM)

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is a type of EM that uses transmitted electrons to create an image or diffraction pattern. In life science, TEM images allow us to examine the insides of cells and determine how the parts of complexes and organisms work together. TEM is also useful for material sciences as it allows us to visualize the crystal structure of materials and determine their composition.

Like SEMs, TEMs are equipped with electron sources/guns that emit an electron stream towards the sample in a vacuum and have lenses and electron apertures for controlling the beam and capturing images. However, a TEM can produce atomic resolution images and detect different types of scattering to provide additional information about the sample. For example, inelastically scattered electrons can be collected by a detector to form high-resolution chemically sensitive, atomic number contrast images, while the x-rays generated by the interaction of the primary electron beam with the sample can be detected with an energy dispersive spectrometer (EDS) to form elemental maps.

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