The project started in March 2015 with several goals:
Make a low cost high quality microscope
Use for projects at BioCurious
Community project (open to all, no patents)
Public education/ outreach
- Fun and camaraderie, meet new people and make friends
The primary goal of our project is to build a fluorescent microscope with lots of elbow grease and minimal hair-tearing at 1/100th of the typical cost. With a starting price of $200,000, these types of microscopes can be prohibitively expensive for professional research labs and are most definitely not accessible to citizen scientists. Our longer term goal is to use this microscope to read a microfluidics chip (a ridiculously small chip that you could use to potentially diagnose diseases!).
You’re only as good as your tools— but if you don’t have any to work with or what you have isn’t precise, what are you going to do?
We are revolutionizing who can make and use this type of microscope by creating an open source design we will share with others around the world. We welcome feedback and collaboration to improve the accuracy and efficiency of what we’ve made. If you have a deep interest in building a fluorescent microscope and don’t know where to start, we hope this site serves as a catalyst for your tinkering.
What would you use a fluorescent microscope for?
Like no other invention, the microscope has unveiled the secrets of nature. The human eye has a resolution in the order of 100 um (10-4 m), which is about the thickness of a hair. With the microscope, whole worlds become available, filled with knowledge that can serve as inspiration to our fantasy.
We can use a fluorescent microscope to track where a protein travelled in a cell or where a gene is located inside of a cell.
This project will develop a fluorescence microscope also known as Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) microscopy. Some microscopes are only usable with specimens that have been “fixed” (dead and static) such as electron microscopes. High intensity light needed to have high magnification tends to kill cells and other living matter. Special microscopes are able to have very high magnification with low levels of light. This project will build a STED microscope with high magnification at low levels of light.