News FocusMicroscopy

New Lens Offers Scientist A Brighter Outlook

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Science  30 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6076, pp. 1562-1563
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6076.1562

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Since 2000, Brad Amos, inventor of the laser scanning confocal microscope, has been working on the "Mesolens," a lens capable of capturing a similar level of detail as a confocal alone, but on a far larger scale. Where existing microscopes have lenses up to 3 centimeters long, the Mesolens is a massive half a meter, which means it can capture a specimen as big as a mouse embryo in a single shot. And whereas a confocal microscope can view up to 0.22 micrometers below the surface of a specimen, provided it is translucent enough, the Mesolens plumbs depths of up to 3 millimeters. The final effect is a 3D picture that allows one to zoom in as far as the level of the cell. The microscope could save biologists the effort of patching together hundreds of small high-resolution images if they want a larger one.

  • * Angela Saini is a writer in London.