Dr. Robert Rock Belliveau, an MD graduate from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, has dedicated the greater part of his career in deciphering specimens through the use of a microscope. After retirement, Belliveau continued to analyze the microscopic world and combined it with his artistic side. He joined courses at the University of Las Vegas, where he was fascinated by the novel characteristic of polarizing microscopes.
Technical Background of Polarizing Microscope
In a polarizing microscope, the transmitted light is used unequally in different directions. It has two polarizing filters positioned above and below the sample, namely the polarizer and analyzer. Exploring objects under polarized light can provide new insights into material structure, which would otherwise be impossible with other microscopes. The polarizing microscope produces vibrant colors without using staining techniques.
Artistic Side of Dr. Robert Rock Belliveau
Using the polarizing microscope, Robert began exploring with different materials. He began his investigation at a grocery store, where he performed microscopic analysis on fruits and vegetables and produced enigmatic images with extraordinary magnifications. Robert produces a high-resolution image with finest details invisible to the human eye by employing a plant specimen of roughly 30µm thick and close to the resolution limit of the human eye.
Figure 1. 800X Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) Skin (ectoderm) with Trichomes.
For instance, magnifying a young cucumber’s surface by 800 times visualizes an unseen microscopic world of plant defense mechanisms, revealing a battleground of toxic spines (Figure 1). Masses of spiny hairs or trichomes have intensely sharp acute points that can penetrate the mouths or bodies of hungry invaders. Their globular bases contain bitter-tasting and toxic compounds known as cucurbitacins that keep away or even exterminate herbivores. Images of corn husk with corn silk and surface of the seed of the common tomato are shown in Figures 2 and 3.
Figure 2. 400X Corn (Maize) Husk with Corn Silk.
Figure 3. 70X Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), showing the surface of the seed of the common tomato.
Role of Lumenera's Imaging Solution in Robert’s Work
Robert previously used a competing high-resolution digital camera but not satisfied with the results. He then selected Lumenera's INFINITYX-32 (Figure 4) to realize his complete imaging solution. When he required the absolute highest quality and resolution, he found the INFINITYX-32 with a maximum resolution of 5.8 million pixels was the ultimate solution. The use of the patented pixel shifting technology enables each CCD pixel to capture full chromatic information, yielding increased color resolution without degradation.
Figure 4. INFINITYX-32 - Lumenera's 32 Megapixel Pixel Shifting Scientific USB 2.0 Camera.
The INFINITYX-32 employs the highly sensitive 1/1.8" interline Sony ICX274 CCD sensor with a pixel array of 1616 X 1216 and 4.4µm square pixels. The capability to perform multiple exposures through shifting the pixel array in sub-pixel increments allows the INFINITYX-32 to capture all primary red, green and blue color data into each pixel on the array effectively. The RGB information acquired via each pixel comprises 36-bits of color image data, yielding 4096 intensity values per color. The results are apparent in the constant superior color fidelity in Robert's art.
With a wide choice of capture resolution options, the INFINITYX-32 enables Robert to match image resolution to the optimal resolving power of his microscope objectives. He is able to snap still images at selectable resolutions in the range of 2-32MP, optimizing the resolving power of the microscope optics. He quickly recognized the possibility of improving spatial resolution over a wide field of view by choosing the upper resolution ranges of the camera.
Lumenera's User Friendly Software
The INFINITYX-32 comprises of two sets of software that provide a complete imaging solution. The INFINITY ANALYZE is a sophisticated image processing, enhancement and analysis software tool that performs measurement, annotation, image processing and archiving. The INFINITY CAPTURE is a sensitive user interface comprising all of the basic features required for controlling the INFINITYX-32 camera and capturing images. This capability helps Robert to perform rapid image capture, archiving and documentation.
The TWAIN and DIRECTX drivers ascertain integration and compatibility with Robert’s digital image editing software. Without this integration, Robert's laborious process of assembling and merging up to 50 images to form a large image containing the finest details would take even longer time. Robert's ultimate goal is to release a photography book featuring images with the description of interesting facts about his kaleidoscopic pictures.
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This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Lumenera Corporation.
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