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This item originally appeared in the April 29, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.


Staff Writer

The School of Biological Sciences has received a sign. It recently acquired an electron transmission microscope called Libra.

"This is the first microscope installed of its kind in the world, and it is here on Tech campus," Dr. David Mills, director of the School of Biological Sciences and an associate professor of biological sciences, said.

The microscope cost $500,000, which was provided to the School of Biological Sciences by the Governor's Bio Technology Incentive. The microscope is one of a group of technology improvements sponsored by former Gov. Mike Foster and is located in the Institute for Micromanufacturing building.

Dr. James Spaulding, a professor of biological sciences, said Libra can magnify things from 80 up to 500,000 times its original size.

"We can use this microscope to analyze the composition of the elements of what we are looking at," Spaulding said.

There are two different kinds of transmission microscopes: scanning and electron. Spaulding said having both of these types in the lab really helps with research.

"These two microscopes complement each other," Spaulding said. "The scanning microscope lets you look at the surface of a material, while an electron microscope helps you see the internal structure."

The Libra will be used by the School of Biological Science as well as the IfM.

"We have combined both of these departments, which helps us have more support, better faculty and better equipment," Mills said.

One of the combined research projects the departments are working on is the interaction between small sensors and human body tissue.

"This could help improve the life of a diabetic," Spaulding said. "Instead of having to prick themselves three times a day to see where their blood sugar is, they will have a sensor implanted into them that will be able to tell them all of that information."

Spaulding said the microscope will be used for research purposes by faculty and students.

"Right now we are researching several things," Spaulding said. "One of my projects is analyzing wound healing."

Students who are to use the microscope have to learn all the procedures and elements related to it.

"I think one of the hardest things for the students to learn is how to prepare the material for the microscope," Spaulding said. "The material must be sliced really thin, to 50 nanometers. Basically, we are able to see smaller things by magnifying them."

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