If a photographer wants to take a better photograph, he can either buy a camera with a better lens and higher pixels or he can modify the picture after it's taken, using Photoshop. The principle is similar in microscopy. Instead of approaching the problem by creating better imaging software that helps to increase the resolution after the fact, as most high resolution microscopes do, Shroff and his lab developed a microscope with better lenses and mirrors so that the higher resolution is captured in the original image.
"What we've essentially done is eliminate the need for extensive computer processing by creating a better microscope at every stage of data gathering," said Shroff. "Before, we relied on computer software and algorithms to do things like sort through hundreds of images, eliminate out of focus light, and combine the individual images together. Now, we can do most of that optically with the microscope itself." This means that researchers can skip the time-consuming steps in which computers process the massive amounts of data normally required for such high resolution imaging. Now they will be able to see the images instantly instead of waiting hours or sometimes days, and the data itself takes about 1% of the hard drive space as that produced by previous microscopes.
The second microscope, described in a paper published in Nature Biotechnology online on October 13, builds on selective plane illumination microscopy (SPIM). Traditional microscopes expose the whole sample
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NIH/National Institute of Biomedical Imaging & Bioengineering