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Imaging with LEGO

Researchers have come up with an inexpensive, automated way to image biological samples – using the children’s toy, LEGO.

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In a new paper scientists at the Crick, UCL and Aix University in Marseille describe a novel device, built with LEGO parts, that can be adapted to most microscopes.

Project lead Ricardo Henriques said: “Sometimes the best solutions to complex biological questions are remarkably low-tech. By developing hardware that uses inexpensive LEGO components as its building blocks, we’ve built an accessible tool that delivers customisable cutting-edge microscopy at a fraction of the cost.”

The device, called NanoJ-Fluidics (and nicknamed Pumpy McPumpface), enables researchers to observe cells in a highly customisable format. For the very first time, researchers can observe samples of cells at well-defined moments in time, for example when they are dividing or become sick.

The LEGO hardware and accompanying software are fully open-source, enabling other research groups to make their own devices. NanoJ-Fluidics has already been successfully adopted by over 10 labs across the world.  

Image credit | iStock

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