Microscope Immersion Fluid Applicator
Background: Microscopy is an important tool used by all researchers in the scientific community. Often, a microscope user will first scan the specimen with a low power dry objective and then wish to switch to an oil, water or glycerin immersion objective to increase optical resolution. In other cases, a user might want to scan a large area, i.e. a multiple-well plate, and would need to replace the immersion media as it is sheared away from the objective lens. In the case of inverted microscopy, both of these examples pose a problem for maintaining the integrity and position of the specimen because the user is required to remove the sample from the stage for application of the immersion media. This procedure is time consuming and difficult to reposition the sample after the immersion fluid is delivered. A more effective method would involve delivery of the immersion media without removing the sample. Technology: Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have designed a simple device to deliver immersion fluid (oil, water, glycerin, etc.) onto the specimen without removing the specimen from the microscope stage. Many microscope manufacturers have developed microscopes designed so that each objective in the turret can be rotated into place with high repeatability of alignment so that the specimen is centered from one objective to the next. The proposed device represents an easy, efficient method to apply immersion fluid to a specimen while maintaining the sample's position in the optical path. Application: In the past, substantial funds have been spent to design a stage holder that allows the user to remove a sample, deliver the immersion fluid, and replace the sample with a minimal shift of the specimen. These methods have proved to be expensive, cumbersome and minimally effective. The main barrier to success in keeping large area scans covered by the immersion fluid is the very short working distances between the turret, microscope stage and specimen (typically, on the order of fractions of a millimeter). The device designed by UCI researchers eliminates the need for a hand delivery of immersion fluid by incorporating the delivery mechanism into the microscope objective turret. This eliminates the use of a traditional immersion fluid bottle or dropper. The proposed immersion fluid device minimizes the risk of accidental spillage onto critical optics in the body of the microscope and onto other non-oil immersion objectives, preventing costly microscope service and clean up.
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