Barcode scanner microscope films neurons firing—23 February 2017

The Australian National University (ANU), supported through the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, has built an advanced microscope using barcode laser scanner technology that can film moving blood cells and neurons firing in living animals. ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) recipient, biomedical optics engineer, Dr Steve Lee, said the invention was much more powerful than similar microscopes available commercially. "Scientists can use our new microscope to analyse complex medical problems ranging from blood disorders and cancer to neurological disorders," said Dr Lee. "The microscope can speed up or slow down to capture the slow moving cells in a blood stream or live neurons firing rapidly in the brain, making it much more flexible than other microscopes on the market."

Dr Lee said the microscope used technology similar to retail barcode scanners and office laser printers—however the team's microscope used a more powerful laser beam as the light source and up to 36 mirror facets to scan the laser beam across the biological sample in a few thousandths of a second. "We achieve the same imaging resolution of conventional scanning microscopes on the market but at double the speed," he said. "The innovation here is that we modernised the polygon mirror microscopy system with advanced electronics and software controls to enable real-time imaging applications, with up to 800 frames per second."

Media issued by The Australian National University.

Image: Yongxiao Li and Dr Steve Lee with the advanced microscope they built. 
Image courtesy: Jack Fox, ANU.

Original Published Date: 
Thursday, February 23, 2017