Microscopy Suite Gains New Equipment, Space

The Imaging Technology Group’s Microscopy Suite has new laboratory space and new equipment thanks to grants and renovations taking place in the Beckman Institute basement.

The Biomedical Imaging Center isn’t the only Beckman facility adding new state-of-the-art instruments. Microscopy Suite Manager Scott Robinson said the additions of new computed tomography (CT) instruments (a method that produces internal images of three-dimensional structures) will add a fourth modality to the facility’s already impressive list of instruments for imaging at a wide range of small scales.

The Microscopy Suite boasts instruments for scanned probe microscopy, light microscopy, and electron microscopy and already had a Skyscan CT that can achieve five-micron resolution of samples. Now, through recent grants, the facility has added a micro- and nano-CT unit for high resolution imaging at one micron and below scales, and soon it will be adding a bio-CT instrument for specialized biological imaging at very small scales.

"I think we have the best range and the best set of options compared to anywhere I can think of in the country..."
– Microscopy Suite Manager Scott Robinson on his group’s new computed tomography instruments.

“With the micro- and nano-computed tomography, now we have a fourth mode of imaging and it’s been very successful,” Robinson said. “People are really excited to have that.”

Part of the basement renovation included creating a room for the CT instruments, with ITG staff member Leilei Yin in charge. Microscopy Suite staff members train researchers to use the CT instruments, with the exception of the nano-CT, which will have a dedicated operator. With the new instruments, Robinson said the Microscopy Suite will offer a wide variety of researchers microscopy capabilities that are unparalleled for a campus facility.

“Everyone is going to be able to use it,” he said. “What we have are really nice solutions to most people’s problems and it’s going to help people from biology to polymer chemistry, for any small scale stuff, it’s going to be really good.

“I think we have the best range and the best set of options compared to anywhere I can think of in the country – just because we have really beautiful high-end instrumentation and really good people to run it and it’s all located in one place.”

While vibration and other effects from the basement construction could interfere with operation of their microscopes, Robinson said his group is adjusting to the work going on around them.

“We just have to be prepared for the construction,” he said. “There’s going to be some jack hammering and scarifying walls to put in shielding. When they do that we just have to be prepared to deal with the noise and the disruption.”

Robinson said that a special darkened room for a fluorescence correlation spectroscopy unit was also created during the renovation work, along with offices for some Microscopy Suite staff.

“It’s been rebuilt completely to what we needed,” he said. “We’ve just been taken care of in every way and that’s great.”