Introduction . . .

This is a brand new blog, by a brand new blogger. However, some readers may recognize this blog's title, taken from a series of books of the same name. Unfortunately, time has a way of gradually making printed material all too quickly outdated -- especially these days -- and so, this blog was created partly as an attempt to address that issue.

As we move forward from here on-going efforts will be made to transfer selected content from the Better Microscopy books series into this new format, not only to provide to provide more effective distribution, but also as a means for making timely additions and overdue updates to that material. In addition, much previously unpublished material is now planned to be released, including high-resolution color images.

The current plan is to aim for a content mix that is both interesting and educational -- perhaps even inspiring -- and which will address the needs and interests of a wide range of user levels, from beginner to semi-professional. With more decades of Microscopy experience than I care to admit, I hope I will be able to contribute something to others in terms of both knowledge and enjoyment.

I hope you find something of interest in new undertaking as it takes shape and gain much from its content, now and well into the future!

Just beware of the occasional attempts at humor...

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

'Heine-IPC': A New COLOR Phase Contrast System?

One incredibly rare bit of microscope technology is the near-legendary Leitz 'Color Heine' phase contrast condenser, shown below, for reference, in comparison with its "common" (non-color) cousin:

Supposedly, only 300 of these very specialized devices were ever made and only a very few are thought to survive today in working condition. Asking prices for working examples today are in the many thousands of dollars – one measure of their uniqueness, and scarcity. Few in microscopy have ever actually seen one, let alone actually used one, and even documentation is almost non-existant. Puplished photos taken through the unit are also extremely rare.

Yet, one benefit of the Color Heine is the knowledge that it is technically possible to achieve Color Phase Contrast using an otherwise ordinary microscope, resulting an underlying desire to achieve this elusive end – somehow!

Now, the simultaneous availability of both an "ordinary" Leitz Heine phase contrast condenser, as well a working example of the not-quite-so-rare Nikon Interference Phase Contrast (IPC) unit, has resulted in an uncommon opportunity to experiment with the combination of these two disparate devices, in the hope of creating a practical and truly flexible 'Color Phase Contrast' System.

The main limitation of the Nikon unit is the matter of finding a condenser with phase rings which acceptably match the phase plates inside the unit – in practice, something much easier said than done... In this light [sic] it was hoped that the Heine condenser could address this problem, resulting in a wider range of optics which could function usefully with the IPC.

As mentioned in a much earlier post, the Nikon IPC was apparently intended to function solely with the old Nikon S-series (short barrel) Achromat objectives, even though much better Nikon optics were readily available, even back then! This odd design limitation seems to have killed the sales of the unit, at least in the US. Still, anone who has one of these systems no doubt has lusted, at least at some time, for the chance to use it with a good Nikon Apo or other fine objective! Thus, the desire to find some practical way to enable this sort of usage, and the subsequent choice of the Leitz Heine condenser as a possible solution... 

But, as the Heine was designed to fit only Leitz microscopes, and the Nikon IPC unit only Nikon  microscopes, a certain amount of "Frankenscope" engineering is to be expected in "marrying" these two separate pieces in the hope of creating a new, viable (and practical) Color Phase Contrast system.

The initial phases of this development effort are now nearing completion and the results should be posted here in the very near future.

Until then, the image set below shows a limited sample of the sort of initial results that may be obtained from this new, "Heine-IPC System", using just ordinary (e.g: non-phase) optics on an unidentified diatom:

Note: Click on the above for larger images

As with any development effort of this sort, improvements in both image color and image quality are expected soon... . 

[ NOTE: For the UPDATE to this Post – see Post of Sept.30, 2017.] 

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