Auckland Bioengineering Institute

Structural measurement rig


The Auckland Bioengineering Institute has developed this novel high throughput imaging system that enables extended volume images to be collected semi-automatically from a range of resin-embedded tissues.

The system consists of a confocal microscope (Leica TCS 4D) with a Kr/Ar laser, a variable speed Ultramill (Leica Polycut) which removes 1 mm thickness of resin over a 75 mm path using diamond tipped cutters, and a three-axis translation stage (Aerotech) with XYZ movement of 500, 200 and 75 mm, respectively, at 100 nm step size.
The microscope and mill are supported above the translation stage using rigid mounting systems designed to facilitate alignment of the imaging and cutting planes. All components are mounted on an anti-vibration table (Newport) and are controlled by a dedicated computer (Dell P4, 1.8Ghz, 1GB RAM, Windows 2000) using software written in LabVIEW™.

Digital reslicing, segmentation and volume rendering methods can be applied to the resulting volumes to provide quantitative data about the extended 3D organisation of tissues not previously available. The system can be used, for example, to quantify the 3D arrangement of myocytes, extracellular collagen matrix and blood vessel network in the heart. This information is required for the development of computer models which are used to probe the relationship between myocardial structure and cardiac function in normal and diseased hearts.