Electron microscope at the University of Kent

2017_ss_electron microscopeIMG_2279On Monday 26th September, two groups of Lower Sixth biologists went to the University of Kent in order to see the real life use of an electron microscope and a laser scanning confocal microscope.

At the Bioscience building we were greeted by the head of Microscopy department, Dr Ian Brown. We started with the laser scanning confocal microscope which was being used to produce a 3D fluorescence image of viruses interacting with bacteria.

We then went to the sample preparation lab where we were advised about the dangerous chemicals used there. We were taken through all the steps involved in preparing a sample before studying it in a transmission electron microscope.  We put a sample into a microtome, which is a tiny and very precise knife, and it was cut into many small pieces of less than 100 nanometres thickness. We then moved to the electron microscope.  In the microscope room, Dr Brown explained how the machine works. Afterwards, he showed us a sample that was already inside the microscope under 250,000x magnification.

We were then allowed to actually use the microscope ourselves and Amanda was so excited by this opportunity that she jumped onto the seat before anyone else could move forward. Every single one of us had chance to use the electron microscope, except for poor Mr Mount who was left out due to the time available running out!

Dr Brown showed us how very small images are made and told us about the exciting projects that he is currently working on. Microscopy is at the forefront of scientific research and it was great to have this close up and hands on experience.

Vlad Zlatkin, Lower Sixth

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