National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (RO1 AI46600)
Our understanding of the significance of microbes in the ocean has improved dramatically over the last decade. However there is still great need for instruments capable of providing insight into the behavior of microbes in their natural setting. The Thin Laser light Sheet Microscope (TLSM) is a possible solution to this problem. The TLSM combines an ordinary microscope with a well-defined thin sheet of laser light that is positioned within the depth of field of the microscope’s objective lens. This combination utilizes the conventional optics of the microscope while replacing the illumination system. The result is a two-fold improvement that first maximizes the efficiency of the illumination source, and second maximizes image sharpness while minimizing the level background noise. The result is an instrument that is capable of observing of micro scale interactions.
The system consists of three main components, a camera, laser, and microscope.
Laser light is sent through a beam expander and adjustable iris. The output of the iris is modulated by a shutter which is synchronized to the camera. This modulation of the laser is helpful because it prevents the sample chamber from heating up due to the input energy of the laser light. The output from the shutter is sent through a cylindrical lens and into the sample chamber. The camera images the sample chamber through the optics of the microscope when the sample chamber is illuminated