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Illuminating Research

3D-printed light-shielding dome improves imaging of small scale details

21 August 2020

Illuminating Research

Life’s details often go unnoticed. Perhaps no one was looking, or they’re too small to see, but sometimes it’s simply a challenge to take a picture that is true to life. Scientists photographing their precious samples face lighting challenges – hard light creates shadows and glare, soft light requires some areas to be over-exposed so that others can be seen at all. This Buprestidae beetle is having a photoshoot with new 3D-printed kit – a dome placed around the insect scatters soft diffuse light evenly across its body. The problem of glare (top) is solved using a 'light-shielding ring' to block out the direct shine of the surrounding LED lights (bottom). The kit’s design is freely available and adaptable – scaled to different sample sizes – perhaps revealing subtle details in insect models for human disease or one day in human tissue samples, helping to show biomedical research in its best light.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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