German Engineers Develop MEMS Mirrors for Microscopes
10 April 2014
Engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) have created an innovative chip that can be installed in an optical microscope to illuminate multiple targeted areas smaller than a single cell in size, the German institute said on its website.
The programmable microelectromechanical (MEMS) chip diverts light of inconstant wavelengths at an extremely high speed and with micrometer precision. The chip can excite specific light-sensitive molecules as groups, which makes it a perfect technique for genetic research.
The addition of a second MEMS chip also makes it possible to choose the angle at which specific areas are illuminated and to highlight with even greater accuracy objects that appear as structures.
The MEMS chip consists of an array of more than 65,000 micro mirrors and their deflection can be changed separately, allowing the researchers to control the angle of incidence and light intensity with up to 1,000 changes per second over the entire matrix area.
The engineers have now teamed up with Austrian optical system maker In-Vision Digital Imaging Optics and scientists from the Plateforme d'Imagerie Dynamique (PFID) at France's Institut Pasteur to test the potential use of the MEMS technology in optical microscopes. The goal will be to examine the influence of certain genes on the development of organisms with far greater accuracy than before. The researchers also believe that this novel combination of optics and genetics could facilitate neuron activation with the use of genetically-modified, light-sensitive ion channels, thus allowing them to examine the function of individual neural networks in cerebral tissue.