Cutting-edge advancements like the Mesolens from Brad Amos and Gail McConnell trace back to the very first microscopes built in the 16th and 17th centuries was the subject of a great article in the Smithsonian in March 2017…
Brad Amos has spent most of his life thinking about and looking into tiny worlds. Now 71 years old, he works as a visiting professor at University of Strathclyde in Scotland where he leads a team of researchers designing an extremely large new microscope lens—about the length and width of a human arm. Named one of Physics World’s Top Ten Breakthroughs of 2016, the so-called Mesolens is so powerful that it can image entire tumors or mouse embryos in one field of view while simultaneously imaging the insides of cells.
“It has the large coverage of a photographic camera lens and the fine resolution of the microscope objective, so it has the advantages of the two approaches,” says Amos. “The images are extremely useful.”
Today, microscopists like Amos are working around the world to innovate new technologies with widespread applications in medicine and human health. But these cutting-edge advancements all trace back to the very first microscopes built in the 16th and 17th centuries. While cutting-edge for the time, they wouldn’t impress you much; that weren’t much stronger than a handheld magnifying glass.
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The image shows a 6 mm long, 12.5 day old mouse embryo obtained with the Mesolens. The inset shows a blow-up of the eye region revealing the individual cell nuclei. It is possible to identify fine structures throughout the embryo such as the developing heart muscle fibers and fine details in the eye such as the corneal endothelium using the Mesolens. (Johanna Trägårdh, University of Strathclyde)