Confocal microscope the focus of new photo exhibit at UNE

Tabea Moll's altered third place image
Tabea Moll's altered third place image

August 26, 2014

Winning entries from the University of New England’s First Annual Student Confocal Microscope Digital Image Competition will be on display in a unique photo exhibit at UNE’s Biddeford Campus Center from August 30 to October 3.

The microscopic world can reveal a bottomless spectacle on common models of study, including fruit flies and neurons. The aim of the inaugural competition was to make UNE’s confocal scanning laser microscope more accessible to all students.

The competition was broken down into two categories: altered and unaltered images. Students who entered images into the unaltered category were barred from changing their images in any way after collecting the image using the Leica software. This category was aimed towards science students.

Students who submitted altered images were allowed to adjust brightness, enhance color and add personal touches to their images; this category was created to encourage students from all disciplines to participate, including art students.

The confocal uses lasers as a light source, which is scanned over a sample containing fluorescent labels. Only the "confocal" fluorescent signal collected by the microscope optics and passed through an adjustable pinhole aperture is used to create an image. Off-axis and out-of-focus signals are blocked, enabling collection of thin optical sections that can be combined to generate high-resolution 3D images. Researchers may use multiple dyes within a sample to analyze cellular relationships. MCF’s confocal system can scan at video rate to allow for live cell analysis. The confocal was purchased with NSF Grant #1125672.

The photo exhibit is free and open to the public. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. In addition, calendars featuring the winning images will be available this fall at the Biddeford Campus bookstore. 

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