View to a big­ger world

The West Australian - - NEWS - Cathy O'Leary Med­i­cal Ed­i­tor

Perth sci­en­tists have un­veiled one of the most pow­er­ful mi­cro­scopes in the world, ca­pa­ble of show­ing the foot­print of a fly.

The Nikon Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence in Op­ti­cal Mi­croscopy has six in­stru­ments, in­clud­ing an ad­vanced mi­cro­scope which is up to 20 times more pow­er­ful than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion of op­ti­cal equip­ment.

The fa­cil­ity is part of the Univer­sity of WA’s Cen­tre for Mi­croscopy, Char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion and Anal­y­sis and based at the Harry Perkins In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Research.

Cen­tre di­rec­tor David Samp­son said the in­stru­ments would be a game-changer in un­der­stand­ing cell be­hav­iour, al­low­ing re­searchers to see things on a scale that had never been pos­si­ble be­fore.

The mi­cro­scopes will be used for ev­ery­thing from un­der­stand­ing vi­sion in an­i­mals, to learn­ing about cells in mam­mals and for research into bac­te­ria and in­fec­tious dis­eases.

“To give an in­di­ca­tion of just how pow­er­ful these mi­cro­scopes are, they can see things 1000 times smaller than what the hu­man eye can see,” Pro­fes­sor Samp­son said.

“This is re­ally ex­cit­ing be­cause for the first time we will be able to see the me­chan­ics of how mol­e­cules work within cells in huge de­tail.”

The cen­tre is the only one of its kind in Aus­tralia and one of only 10 in the world.

Pic­ture: Nic El­lis

Pro­fes­sor David Samp­son, di­rec­tor of UWA's op­ti­cal and bio­med­i­cal engi­neer­ing lab­o­ra­tory, with the Nikon mi­cro­scope.

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