How it Works: Microscopy and Imaging
SH1 is an Halovirus which infects marine archeal microorganisms. SH1 has a protein shell with icosahedral symmetry and an underlying lipid bilayer, which coats the viral genome. The dimensions of the icosahedral capsid are 78.5 nm edge to edge. The Figure shows a section of the electron density map, showing the individual protein subunits – nearly 1,700 of which make up a single virus particle.
Courtesy of Luigi De Colibus, Tom Walter, Juha Huiskonen, Elina Roine, Dannis Bamford, Dave Stuart, Division of Structural Biology, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford.
Introducing science's secret weapon
We’ll start with the simple stuff: microscopy is pretty much what it sounds like – using microscopes to study small objects. And imaging is the process by which the data gathered during microscopy is turned into an image. It seems pretty basic, but these terms encompass a vast range of advanced techniques. Together, microscopy and imaging are a crack team that have revolutionised science and shaped the modern world.
What is it?
Microscopes have been in use since the early 17th Century when Galileo and his contemporaries began constructing the handy tools for use in their experiments. One of the first documented uses was to draw painstakingly detailed pictures of insects and their anatomical structure. Already, microscopy was helping scientists to see the world in a completely new way.
Artist's impression of Diamond's new I14/Cryo EM facility
Microscopy and Imaging at Diamond
Microscopy and imaging has come a long way over the past 400 years, but technology is increasing at an astonishing rate. Machines like the new electron microscopes at Diamond are pushing the boundaries of what microscopy and imaging can achieve, helping scientists to look deeper and deeper into the intricate structure of our world.