State-of-the-art microscope making scientific breakthroughs coming to Purdue

A new state-of-the-art piece of equipment is coming to Purdue's campus. Purdue officials say a $9 million microscope will advance research in Indiana.

Posted: Jul 10, 2019 9:27 AM
Updated: Jul 10, 2019 9:53 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- Research is being taken to the next level in West Lafayette. A brand new, state-of-the-art electron microscope will soon call Purdue University home. However, Purdue isn't the only institution that will benefit. 

The collaboration includes Eli Lilly and Company, the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, IU School of Medicine and IU Bloomington, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University. Dr. Richard Kuhn with Purdue said this collaboration is a shared interest in everyone wanting to have top-notch research done in Indiana. 

Images in the video that can be seen above is of a similar, older model of the Titan Krios microscope currently at Purdue. The current microscope is about ten years old.

The new microscope cost a total of $9 million. The money for the device was all pooled together from all the institutions in the collaboration mentioned above.

What makes this new microscope so high-tech is its ability to allow scientists to speed up the analyzation process. For example, some details could take months to find in other microscopes, but the Titan Krios could find those details much quicker. It takes only one week for the microscope to go through hundreds of samples.

Dr. Kuhn said it's completely transformed the way we can look at biological molecules.

"We can see great detail at unprecedented speed of study," he said. "Whether they are proteins that might be involved in causing cancer, or whether they are viruses that are causing new diseases like Zika virus."

All the institutions who contributed to purchasing this microscope will have an input on the research that is done with it. 

The microscope will be located in Discovery Park.

It's meant to run at all times-24 hours a day, 7 days a week by itself. That's because the Titan Krios is so high tech that there's little human interaction with the device. 

Here's how it works- data samples are loaded up into the machine. Scientists usually load up with enough data samples to last a week. The microscope then robotically moves those samples around to be analyzed, and is then able to move onto the next sample with no assistance. It's completely computer-ran. 

Dr. Kuhn said this makes analyzing much quicker for scientists, but he says the best part is that the microscope is running all the time.

"So you load it up with all your samples and it will just keep working day and night," he said. "So we can collect lots of data with this microscope."

The microscope is coming from the Netherlands. It stands at a massive 15 feet tall and will require several very fragile parts to be pieced together. 

Dr. Kuhn says it should arrive around January of next year. He hopes it will start researching by late spring.

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