Label Free Microtubule Microscopy


The exciting work of Mohammed Mahamdeh and Joe Howard (J.Microsc. prompted me in the December break from teaching in 2018 to try and reproduce it, using the Nikon TiE inverted epifluorescence microscopy in the lab. With the able presence of a talented Masters student Yash Jawale (now PhD student in the Netherlands), we attempted to uncover its secret levers of light attentuation. After frustrating months, we had a visitor from France, Dr. Kheya Sengupta from CINAM Marseille. As an expert on IRM and RICM (a related method) she helped us achieve it- label free microscopy of the 30 nm wide single MT filaments in (IRM)! And since then we have been toying with it, getting better images with passing days. Now if only the remaining experiments would work!

Field microscope


Focussing mechanism for a cellphone microscope

After collecting a small personal museum of microscopes (I don’t have a very big house, so there are limits to it), it was thrilling to complete a project with Yash (BS-MS 2018) and Prof. Rapol in Physics @iiserpune, where we added a 3D printed mechanism for focus adjustment for a portable ball lens microscope. The help we got from Dr. Manu Prakash at Stanford to get us started needs to be mentioned. His energy in spreading portable microscopy in parts of LDCs (less developed country) like India has got a lot of people to get “back to the basics”. In our work we got some help in terms of samples from the lab of Dr. Krishanpal Karmodiya, who works with Plasmodium infected cells for understanding the genomics of malaria. Kudos to the team and looking forward to more developments.

The 3D files of the device we have described in our paper are Open Source and available to download [Github link]. Anybody with access to a 3D printer should in principle be able to make this.


Yash Jawale, Umakant Rapol and Chaitanya A. Athale (2018) Open Source 3D printed focussing mechanism (3DPFM) for cellphone based cellular microscopy. 12-Nov-2018 J. Microsc.

Micron-Scale Biological Devices


The advent of micro-fluidics has been a boon to research in biology and medicine. Already many such devices exist in the commercial domain reducing what were a plethora of flasks, transfer processes and reactions at the macroscopic scale (even with a few micro-liters) to something that works in nano- and femto liter volumes.
We are using the relatively simpler process of soft-lithography by optimizing patterns using phot

The bacterial mother machine devlice (with high autofluorescence) and the assembly of the entire device (Manasi Gangan)

oresist that can be exposed to UV and post-baking used for building channels, flows and growth-chambers for cells.
We have reproduced the ‘mother-machine’ for bacterial cells described first by Wang et al. from Suckjoon Jun’s lab.

We are currently testing the results and developing some image analysis tools to extract meaningful numbers from the device.

For more on Biological Microfluidics, see the review by Velve-Casquillas et al. (& Phong Tran) 2010 Nano Today.