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Laser Microdisection Systems: Past, Present and Future

Modern devices, like the Leica Laser Microdisection System, make it a lot easier to decipher the different cell types within a sample. Yet, it was once a lot harder. It took years of science and industry to create the advanced systems researchers use today.

Leica Laser Microdisection System

Before Laser Microdisection Systems

The quality of research wasn’t as great.  The reason? Samples like eukaryotic tissue or ecological samples contain numerous different cells. For researchers to see a clear picture of the problems they intend to identify, they needed to isolate samples down to more granular levels.

In the time before laser microdisection systems, researchers often had to look at samples as a whole. This approach gave a good description of the general tissue makeup, but failed to identify underlying compositions and details.

 

Solving the Problem

The solution came with cancer research. Researchers looking at cells wanted a way to dissect small portions of tissue. The portions of tissue could then be tested separately and their unique compositions discovered.

Lance Liotta of the National Cancer Institute noted his team’s laser microdisection solution in a 1996 science paper. The method involved a transparent film placed over a sample tissue section. The specific cells would adhere to the film. An infrared laser would also aid in the removal of the sample portion. With the sample separated, the researchers could test it on its own.

 

Modern Laser Microdisection Systems

The use of microdisection systems have spread beyond cancer research.  Researchers use them for numerous areas: live cell research, climate research and cover-slip engraving for electron microscopy.  Modern systems can quickly isolate cells, have convenient laser manipulation and allow researchers to easily mark and track microscopic samples. Unique lasing within fluorescence is also available in Leica Laser Microdisection Systems.

 

The Future of Microdisection

There’s no telling for sure what will change when it comes to laser microdisection in the future, but chances are the process will become increasingly simpler for researchers, allowing them to advance mankind’s collective understanding of microscopic structures. To learn more about one of the most advanced systems available, check out the Leica LMD7000 and see exactly how far laser microdisection systems have progressed.

Microscopes in a Teaching Environment

Recently, Leica Microsystems Product Manager Vince Vaccarelli gave his insights into what makes a good microscope for teaching. While having the most up to date technology is nice, these are some factors you should consider when purchasing microscopes for the classroom.

  1. Portability. Classroom microscopes should be small and easy to handle especially when you consider the amount of times you’ll be taking them (and their respective cables) in and out of storage.
  2. Sturdiness. Being exposed to rough handling and various environmental conditions means that durability is key for both universities and schools.
  3. Usability. Ideally, classroom microscopes should have well-labled parts, few adjustable features, and components that can’t be removed. Students should be able to easily work with these microscopes.
  4. Optical performance. Sacrificing good optics would be defeating the purpose bringing microscopes into the classroom. With good optical performance you get better contrast, color, and resolution that reproduces images accurately. By Giving your students a clear and crisp image you enable them to properly learn about what they’re seeing.
  5. Maintenance. After a busy day of learning, servicing a fleet of microscopes can be daunting. Keep in mind the difficulty of cleaning and maintaining the microscopes when considering your next purchase.

Leica has an educational product line with features such handles and cord wraps , mold growth resistance, and an anti-bacterial additive. All this within compact bodies for easy storage.

Correcting Aberration in Stereo Microscopy

Stereo Microscopes are optimized for use with samples exposed directly to air. Even though this creates increased resolving power, there are drawbacks once the sample is embedded in polymer of immersed in liquid.

This is due to refractive index mismatch which creates aberration.

Aberration occurs when there is a difference in the refractive indices of air and water. This makes it difficult to accurately observe certain features. Fortunately, this can be remedied with a specialized objective or a correction collar that corrects the mismatch. With greatly reduced spherical aberration, a sharper image is produced.

Abberation 2

Leica’s solution to aberration comes in the form of microscopes that use a correction collar. With a correction collar you can make adjustments to a group of lenses within the objective and correct for refractive index mismatch. This makes the image plane smaller giving the sample a sharper, crisper focus.

Whether the subject is embedded in a polymer (e.g. glass, plastic, etc.) or immersed in liquid we have what you need to handle a variety of obstacles to get the best image out of your sample.

Explore the Hidden Worlds All Around Us

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If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re no stranger to the ways of microscopy, but you can’t help but be amazed by the stunning textures and landscapes it can reveal.

Our latest example comes by way of the artist Pyanek and the Amazing Worlds Within Our World project. With subjects ranging from kitchen sponges to cornflakes, to soap bubbles, Pyanek takes us on a fascinating dive into more mundane objects of everyday live to explore their inner complexity.
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