Image Credit: Nature
A group of French researchers have developed a novel 3D printed microscopy chamber, known as UniverSlide, that can be used for multidimensional imaging. The researchers have filled a need when 3D printed microscopy techniques are constantly advancing and many current 3D printed microscopy techniques today are hindered by lack of a versatile imaging chamber.
The name, UniverSlide, contains two parts- ‘universal’ and ‘slide’. Universal is named after the versatile nature of the chamber and ‘slide’ refers to the design of the device, which is essentially an advanced version of a microscope slide.
The chamber developed by the researchers is a multi-use observation chamber that can be adapted for live 3D bio-imaging. The researchers have already demonstrated a couple of examples where live imaging could be used-encapsulation of hydrogel shells and zebrafish larvae.
The researchers have created the chambers with the goal of making them versatile and compatible with all microscopy devices, whether or not they have an upright or inverted configuration. Most microscopes in laboratories today require a specific and tailored chamber that is only useable for one type of sample.
The development of this microscope now has the potential to redesign the way in which imaging chambers are used in laboratories in terms of cost-efficiency, space, portability, reliability, compatibility and ease of use.
Imaging can also take place with both fixed and live samples, samples of any shape, multiple samples, all sub-millimeter samples, any biological sample and is compatible with high throughput screening and autonomous multi-purpose imaging. Another key advantage is that the versatile nature of the imaging chamber does not detract from the resolution and quality of the image(s) produced.
The chamber has been designed for utilization across a wide range of biological applications and has even been designed for use in tricky environments, such as cell culturing. In these environments where a small change in the atmospheric composition can cause drastic changes, the chamber provides a sealed, autoclavable environment that allows for a high user controllability.
Not only can these chambers be used for multipurpose 3D imaging, they can be used for multidimensional 4D imaging. By utilizing the 4th dimension of time, the chamber can track samples in real-time, rather than just providing a static image. The real-time imaging can also track, identify and distinguish between different biological species with no limitation, other than those presented by the quality of the microscope itself.
In essence, the researchers have filled a gap in the market by presenting an all-in-one device that negates any limitations previously seen by imaging chambers. It shouldn’t be long before the presence of multiple imaging chambers in a laboratory are phased out for an all-in-one multipurpose device.
Image Credit: Nature
So how is the UniverSlide made?
Using a biocompatible resin, HTM140, the different components are printed by a Digital Light Processing (DLP) 3D printer. To determine a high compatibility with microscopes, the researchers decided the size of UniverSlide to be colloquial with standard microscope slides (26 x 76 mm2).
The device consists of 5 main components- a 3D printed chamber frame, which determines the size of the microscope slide; a bottom coverslip, which allows imaging from inverted microscopes to be possible; an agarose pad, which is imprinted by a stamp pertaining to the type of sample(s) being imaged; a PDMS seal, which prevents any contact between the sample and the resin; and a 3D printed lid and coverslip, which allows imaging for upright microscopes.
The bottom coverslip is placed into the chamber frame and the PDMS seal is clipped on top. This is followed by pouring of the agarose solution into the device (the concentration varies depending on requirements). After cooling of the agarose solution to form a gel, the medium of choice is used to remove the stamp and fill the chamber. The samples are then loaded into the wells and sealed off, ready for imaging.
The UniverSlide is easy to assemble, and it has been stated that someone who is untrained in experimental procedures can assemble the device in 10 minutes.
The Research Team
Gaëlle Recher, a Postdoctoral Researcher; Pierre Nassoy, the Director of Research at LP2N – Institute of Optics; Andreas Bikfalvi, a full Professor; Maxime Feyeux, a Postdoctoral Researcher; Laetitia Andrique, a Postdoctoral Researcher; and Kevin Alessandri, a Postdoctoral Researcher.
Allesandri K., Andrique L., Feyeux M., Bikfavli A., Nassoy P., Recher G., All-in-one 3D printed microscopy chamber for multidimensional imaging, the UniverSlide, Scientific Reports, 2017, 7, 42378 doi:10.1038/srep42378