Monday, 15 June 2015

Is it a prop out of a sci fi movie?

So I posted a few weeks about Serious Equipment needing a Serious Crane. While the PacBioRSII is a cool piece of equipment, it basically looks like a big box. Nowhere near as cool looking as this crazy thing:
I think we got this from a Star Trek movie set

Or maybe its a steampunk thingie from Girl Genius

It seems to be looking at me

OK so these are pictures of the Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) instrument that has just been installed at UNSW. I was part of a team led by Mike Manefield and Federico Lauro that attracted funding for this instrument from the Australian Research Council. I'd never seen pictures of one until Federico showed me these, its truly a crazy looking thing. What this thing does is fire a pulsed beam of ions at a sample, and then it can identify the compounds present by collecting secondary ions produced by running them through a mass spec. It can thus produce a image map with a sub-micron resolution showing what chemicals are present. We hope to use it to analyze the metabolic activities of different bacteria within complex communities.

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