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BCM - Baylor College of Medicine

Giving life to possible

Optical Imaging and Vital Microscopy Core

About the Core

The Optical Imaging and Vital Microscopy Core provides cutting-edge imaging and image analysis tools for researchers in all branches of science and engineering. We strongly encourage interdisciplinary collaborations from Baylor College of Medicine community and from around the world.

Types of Microscopy

The following types of Microscopy are available through the Optical Imaging and Vital Microscopy Core facility. See information on each below:

Fluorescence Microscopy

Fluorescence microcopy is a type of microscopy in which fluorescence emission from fluorophores such as molecules, quantum dots, nanoparticles, etc. are used to visualize cells and structures at the microscopic scale. Fluorophores typically used in biology are excited by visible or near-infrared light and the light emitted by the fluorophores fall in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Lasers that emit light at different wavelengths in the visible/near-infrared regions are commonly used as light sources in fluorescence microscopy.

Confocal Microscopy

In confocal microscopy, light from a laser is focused using a lens to a narrow focal point within a tissue/biological specimen. The incident light excites the fluorophores in an hourglass shaped region centered around the focal point of the lens. The excited fluorophores upon relaxation emit visible photons. Using a dual pinhole, the emitted photons collected by the detector is restricted to the vicinity of the focal point of the lens. Such a slight modification in signal detection leads to a significant improvement in resolution and contrast of the final image. Our confocal microscopes can be used to image biological specimens at very high resolution. We also have a line scanning confocal microscope that allows one to image fluorescently tagged flowing particles.

Two-photon Microscopy

In two-photon microscopy, a pulsed near infra-red laser is used to excite the fluorophores. A fluorophore is excited by quasi-simultaneous absorption of two near infra-red photons. The excited fluorophore upon relaxation emits light in the visible region. Since the two-photon absorption events occur with lesser probability in tissue regions away from the focal point of the objective lens, the emitted light is confined to a femtoliter volume in the vicinity of the focal point of the lens. Another attractive feature of using near infra-red light in imaging tissues is that it is less absorbed by the tissue compared to the light in the visible spectrum. This allows one to image deeper into the tissue using near infra-red light. Our state of the art two-photon microscope can be used to take 3D images with cellular resolution.

Publication Acknowledgements

Scientific publications containing data obtained using the services offered by the core should include the following statement in the acknowledgment section: This project was supported by the Optical Imaging and Vital Microscopy core at Baylor College of Medicine.