Summer Science Exhibition

Improving the magnifying glass: a new giant lens

Mouse embryo and zoomed image showing cell nuclei

Researchers from the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research Institute are working with an optical designer to develop a new microscope focussing on the quantity as well as quality of cellular imaging.

The development of the microscope revolutionised science, but it has historically focused solely on high resolution within a small image field.  Researchers have now developed a lens allowing scientists to see thousands of cells at once but with higher resolution than thought possible and greatly improved perception of depth.  Large specimens can be viewed in sufficient detail to see the internal parts of each cell, opening many new possibilities in science and medicine.   

“We have worked for more than twenty years on the development of new optical systems for biomedical research.  This new microscope allows scientists to observe simultaneously huge numbers of cells, their three-dimensional arrangement and even something of their internal structure, which will change how scientists conduct research,” says Dr William Amos FRS from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

Visitors to the exhibit will be able to use the new lens to view specimens and pan and zoom in on images to see both the gross anatomy and sub-cellular detail, which has never been seen in a single image before.

Web links

Exhibited by Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Exhibitor's latest blog

Welcome to Bloggers: Meet the Mesolens Team
By Brad Amos | Wednesday 2nd June, 11:22pm

We are:   Brad Amos  (biologist and microscope designer),  Es Reid (lens and telescope designer) and Stefanie Reichelt  (biologist and artist).  We will try to answer your questions about the novel giant lens which we have called Mesolens to convey its intermediate position between a microscope objective and a photographic macro lens.  Do check our external website http://www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/va/newgiantlens/ which has a lot of extra information, including copies of the leaflets that will  be distributed at the exhibition. These are in three versions, for general visitors (with technical details), schoolteachers (with some guidance on acquiring microscopes and cameras for showing microscopy to classes and for schoolchildren , with information on , for example, making a plankton net from your mum's stocking.

View all 'Improving the magnifying glass: a new giant lens' blog posts

The Exhibition is located in the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, and takes place from Friday 25 June to Sunday 4 July 2010. Open Friday 25 June 6pm - 8.30pm, then daily 10am - 8.30pm. Entrance is free. For groups larger than 12 people, please contact us to book.