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08940 Cornellà de Llobregat, Barcelona

Message about COVID19

Due to the exceptional situation and the challenge of containing the CoronaVirus COVID-19, in Winkoms we have implemented measures in order to guarantee the health of our team, following Health recommendations

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Winkoms Open Microscopy Team

What is a microscope of atomic forces?

Original source: Wikipedia

An atomic force microscope (AFM) is a type of very high resolution scanning probe microscope, which can measure fractions of the nanometer, more than 1000 times better than the optical diffraction limit.

The forerunner of the AFM, the tunnel effect microscope (STM), was developed by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer in the early 1980s at the IBM Research Center - Zurich, a progress that earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986 Binnig, Quate and Gerber invented the first atomic force microscope in 1986. The first commercially available atomic force microscope appeared in 1989.

The AFM is one of the most important tools for preparing topographic maps of matter on a nanometric scale. The information is collected by scanning detecting the molecular and atomic forces that act on a tip located on the surface of the material studied. The piezoelectric elements, which allow small but exact movements in the electronic control, make very precise scanning possible. In some variations, electrical potentials can also be measured using conductive micro-levers. In newer and more advanced versions, it is even possible to measure the electrical conductivity of the underlying surface by transmitting electrical current through the tip, but this method is more difficult and there are few research groups that present reliable data with this system.

Lego Lish-Mot, an innovative microscope made with Lego parts and manufactured in Barcelona

Original source: IRB Barcelona


LegoLish-Mot is the second prototype of LEGOLish, a “unique and creative project that brings the latest 3D imaging technology in a simple and visual form to the public at large and to school children,” explains Julien Colombelli, also co-inventor of the first LEGOLish prototype, together with Jordi Andilla (Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO)), Sébastien Tosi (IRB Barcelona), and Jim Swoger (Centre for Genomic Regulation, CRG).

“We have managed to remove the optical complexity from the microscope and bring a lego-based system that offers students the possibility to take images or videos themselves with their own mobile phones, yet functioning in 3D and using fluorescence on real biological samples,” remarks Julien. “Building a research microscope from Lego blocks will hopefully motivate schools and research labs to get one and to use it for educational purposes”, adds the co-inventor.

Microscopy, seeing to understand

Light Sheet Microscopy is the most important breakthrough in 3D fluorescence microscopy. This new technique allows the recording of images in vivo over several days without damaging the sample. And, much of the optimisation of this technology has been focused on delivering 3D images of very large samples at unprecedented resolution. Combined with chemical techniques to make samples transparent, full organ and tumour 3D imaging has recently been achieved at cellular resolution.

“Compared to many other fluorescence methods, such as confocal microscopy, that have been used in research labs for 30 years, Light Sheet Microscopy is so simple that it can be showcased to anyone and so hopefully it can clear up the perceived mystery surrounding what goes on in the dark rooms of research institutes,” explains Julien Colombelli. And he points out that “the latest and fully motorized version of LEGOLish will enable labs to test a basic Light Sheet system before deciding to purchase a commercial system”. In the current configuration, results generated by LEGOLish cost about 200 to 1000 times less than those produced by a commercial microscope.

'Foldscope', the origami microscope

Original source:

The Foldscope is a paper microscope equipped with a single lens designed to cost less than $ 1. It is also known as the origami microscope.

This artifact has been developed by Stanford University researcher Manu Prakash.

The main idea is to make a microscope that can be distributed on a large scale in developing countries in order to be used to diagnose diseases.

Manu Prakash realized in 2011 that one of the difficulties in treating diseases such as malaria in the third world was the lack of a clear diagnosis. For the diagnosis of some diseases, a blood test must be performed using a microscope. Unfortunately, this is not an option in many places where lack of money and infrastructure does not allow a microscope.

With the idea of facilitating the diagnostic process, Stanford researchers set out to develop a microscope that was both cheap and highly effective. Thus was born the Foldscope. The microscope structure is constructed from pieces printed with water resistant paper. The remaining elements are a small battery, a lens and an LED light. The sample is inserted into a small slot and then it is possible to observe it with magnifications of up to 500x by bringing the microscope close to the eye.

How does the Foldscope work?

The Foldscope is, at the conceptual level, very similar to the simple microscopes that were manufactured by Anton van Leeuwenhoek during the 17th century. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was a Dutch cloth merchant who developed a technique to make high quality magnifying glasses. This allowed him to build simple microscopes that achieved increases of an unprecedented level. The Foldscope is based on the same principle but built with much simpler materials and modern manufacturing techniques to reduce its cost drastically.

There are three ways to use the Foldscope. One option is to zoom the lens into the eye to directly observe the sample through the magnifying lens. Another possible option is to connect the Foldscope to a smartphone so that the sample can be seen on a screen. The third option is to project the image of the sample to a white surface thanks to the LED light of the Foldscope.

The Foldscope is small enough to carry in your pocket. This makes it a very practical instrument. Although it is made of very simple materials, it is also very resistant and designed to withstand shocks.

What resolution should my microscope's digital camera have?

Original source:

The separating power (A.K.A. resolution) of a microscope is not given by the camera but by the objective of the microscope.

It is a classic that our customers ask us for digital cameras of "when more megapixels better" but the reality is that the separating power (A.K.A. resolution) of a microscope is NOT given by the camera but the objective of the microscope

In the market there are microscope cameras from 1 to 32 Megapixels, 5 and 10 Megapixels being usual, but if the separating power / resolution is not given by the camera then how many pixels are necessary to work in microscopy?

First point - The Separating power (A.K.A. Resolution) of a microscope

To determine pixels we need before we must know the separating power of our microscopes.

This parameter is mainly determined by the Numerical Opening of our objectives and is defined by the following simplified formula:

Second point - Nyquist theorem

We already have the resolution of our objectives, but how does it translate into pixels?

To do this, we use the Nyquist Theorem that will determine the ideal pixel size for each of our objectives. A formula for calculating the IDEAL pixel size in microscopy is:


Third point - Camera Sensor Size

Now we know what dimensions it is necessary for our pixels to solve, in maximum detail, the images of our microscopes but we need to translate the size of 1 pixel to the resolutions we use with our cameras.

The simplest formula is:

The simplest way is:

IMPORTANT! Above the obtained megapixel value we will be over sampling the image and we will not get more information. Below the value we lose information and it is not recommended at all.

Galileo Galilei and Winkoms

Although Galileo Galilei did not stand out especially for his microscopic studies, he did so because of the application of the lenses in several devices such as the telescope and the creation of a microscope which he called "occhiolino" in the year 1609.

"The occhiolino" or microscope composed of a convex lens and a concave lens had a finish, cover included, with a strong Italian Renaissance character.

The microscope was made up of three lenses: eyepiece, field and objective. The eyepiece was located in a wooden capsule inserted in the upper part of the inner cardboard cylinder. At the bottom of this cylinder, held by a wooden ring, was the field lens. With respect to the objective lens it was in a wooden support at the bottom of the outer cylinder and lined with green leather. The inner cylinder (eyepiece and field) slides inside the outer one, to calculate the focal. The external cylinder, with the entire optical system was supported by an iron ring supported by three pillars. The approach was achieved by moving the body inside the iron ring.

Our brand Winkoms wants to pay tribute to the "occhiolino" (wink in English) of Galileo Galilei, and we intend that its creation and ingenuity be the reflection of our values ​​and the way of understanding business.