Seeing around cells: The microscopic periscope

Tom Marcinko @ 26-02-2009

periscopeBiologists almost never see the sides of cells. Traditional microscopes only show them the top. Now, though, Vanderbilt scientists have created what’s being called “the world’s smallest periscope”:

The researchers have dubbed their devices “mirrored pyramidal wells.” As the name implies, they consist of pyramidal-shaped cavities molded into silicon whose interior surfaces are coated with a reflective layer of gold or platinum. They are microscopic in dimension – about the width of a human hair – and can be made in a range of sizes to view different-sized objects. When a cell is placed in such a well and viewed with a regular optical microscope, the researcher can see several sides simultaneously.

This low-cost 3D microscopic technique could become standard practice, and become as common as the traditional slide. If only somebody could tell Stephen Boyd or Edmond O’Brien.

A sunflower pollen grain from five vantage points, PhyOrg.

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One Response to “Seeing around cells: The microscopic periscope”

  1. Acai says:

    They are microscopic in dimension – about the width of a human hair – and can be made in a range of sizes to view different-sized objects. When a cell is placed in such a well and viewed with a regular optical microscope, the researcher can see several sides simultaneously.