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Making Fluorescence Microscopy Compact and Portable

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Following the recent launch of its inverted microscope, ioLight has introduced its new fluorescence instrument. This highly-advanced microscope has been designed to provide a compact and affordable solution to enable research to be completed with ease when the viewing of fluorescent samples is required.

Traditional fluorescence microscopes are large, expensive and cumbersome pieces of equipment that do not move from the lab bench. They target high-quality quantitative fluorescence imaging for the development of specimens tagged with fluorophores. As this tagging technology has become mature, researchers are now using fluorescence in larger-scale applications, which requires a small and easy to use tool for qualitative sample screening. To answer this requirement, ioLight explored how it could best create a microscope that would encompass everything required for qualitative fluorescence microscopy in an affordable and compact instrument.

“The use of fluorescence microscopes is fundamental in biomedical research,” explained Richard Williams, co-founder of ioLight.

“Fluorescence microscopy requires complex and expensive instrumentation and so it is usually reserved for important applications only. Therefore, using the equipment for the qualitative sorting of samples is difficult. A small low-cost tool did not exist that would help for this purpose, so using our knowledge and expertise, we developed the fluorescence instrument within the same compact, light-weight and robust format of the other ioLight microscopes. This has resulted in an instrument which can now be used with ease, not just in a lab, but at a desk if required, or even out in the field, thanks to its portability.”

Fluorescence microscopy is an enabling technology as it underpins nearly all bio-medical research and development, benefitting many industry sectors including pharmaceutical, health care, veterinary and education. The fluorescence microscopy technology contained within the new ioLight microscope aims to improve performance and productivity by enabling screening organisms with fluorescent tags more rapidly and at a lower cost.

“What is exciting about the new ioLight fluorescence microscope is its potential for new applications,” continued Williams. “For example, it can be used to screen large numbers of samples. Subsequently, detection of tuberculosis, rabies and other animal diseases in the field is a big application. Using equipment in-situ will allow for on-the-spot analysis, therefore, reducing the risk of spreading infection.

“Of course the same is true in human health care. The ioLight fluorescence microscope can be used in remote destinations thanks to its compact size. It is often impossible to get samples to a lab without significant degradation and of course, expensive lab microscopes cannot be used in the field. The availability of portable fluorescence microscopy has the potential to make a really big difference to field researchers, local clinics and charities in developing countries.”

The ioLight fluorescence microscope may also have potential for use within the educational sector. The microscope was designed to be accessible when it comes to its size and price, and thus could be used within educational establishments to learn fluorescence techniques and the principles behind the technology. “This will be extremely important in universities where expensive lab microscopes are not always available for teaching.”

The ioLight Fluorescence microscope does not use an optical eyepiece but instead displays its images on an Android or iOS tablet or phone. It connects immediately via an app so that images and videos can be captured and shared easily with a simple wireless connection. It can be used to view samples >5-10um in size and has a magnification of x160 when viewed on 9” tablet screen with a 1.2mm field of view.