Virtual-reflected-light microscope visualizes ancient protozoa in 3D

Sept. 21, 2011
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada--Engineers at the University of Alberta are using their VLRM prototype to study ancient protozoa and other microfossils from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada--Engineers at the University of Alberta are using their virtual-reflected-light microscopy (VLRM) prototype to study ancient protozoa and other microfossils. The VLRM is made up of a conventional optical microscope, a light source, a multi-axis translation stage, and software that extracts shape and reflectance from the images.

The fossils were found in core samples taken from the depths of the Pacific Ocean. University of Alberta engineering professor Dileepan Joseph and two graduate students, Adam Harrison and Cindy Wong, produced the 3D imaging system. To see the full effect on a computer screen, viewers wear paper-framed 3D glasses with red and cyan lenses. Viewers also control a virtual light source, which they reposition using their web browser. Wong developed the Java applet that allows simple, intuitive interaction with the images.

Joseph and his students produced 3D images of ancient fossils that were mixed in with the sand and rock of the core samples.

Species identification

Joseph says the VRLM gives geoscientists and computer programs in development much more information than simple images. The goal is to accelerate species identification of the tiny and numerous microfossils. Such identifications are used to date the rock from which the creatures are pulled. The microfossil species digitized by the VLRM prototype were found in rock known by geologists to be 60 million years old.

Geoscientists can use that kind of strata dating information in Earth-sciences research and in the search for energy resources. The University of Alberta researchers say there are multiple industrial and academic uses for their 3D microscope technology, including metallurgic studies.

About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

Sponsored Recommendations

How Precision Motion Systems are Shaping the Future of Semiconductor Manufacturing

March 28, 2024
This article highlights the pivotal role precision motion systems play in supporting the latest semiconductor manufacturing trends.

Understanding 3D Printing Tolerances: A Guide to Achieving Precision in Additive Manufacturing

March 28, 2024
In the world of additive manufacturing, precision is paramount. One crucial aspect of ensuring precision in 3D printing is understanding tolerances. In this article, we’ll explore...

Automation Technologies to Scale PIC Testing from Lab to Fab

March 28, 2024
This webinar will cover the basics of precision motion systems for PIC testing and discuss the ways motion solutions can be specifically designed to address the production-scale...

Case Study: Medical Tube Laser Processing

March 28, 2024
To enhance their cardiovascular stent’s precision, optimize throughput and elevate part quality, a renowned manufacturer of medical products embarked on a mission to fabricate...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!