Laser-Focused: New Microscope to Benefit Kent State Researchers

Equipment purchase was made using university’s new ‘Game Changer’ funding to support R1 research designation

Kent State University researchers are beginning to use a new high-tech microscope that will allow them to view the structure of cell tissue on a more intense level. 

A new multimodal nonlinear optical microscope, or NLO, capable of various image scattering techniques using lasers, was installed in the Integrated Sciences Building on the Kent Campus in June. 

Engineers install the new NLO microscope in the Integrated Sciences Building on the Kent Campus in June 2023.

It will be used by faculty and researchers in both Kent State’s Advanced Materials and Liquid Crystal Institute (AMLCI) and Brain Health Research Institute (BHRI), as well as science researchers from across the university. 

Doug Delahanty, Ph.D., vice president for Research and Economic Development, said the microscope was purchased with money from the division’s new "Game Changer" funding program, which was started this year to help the university invest in larger pieces of equipment that will not only help current research but enable more advanced research. 

Image of Douglas L. Delahanty
Doug Delahanty

The investment is part of the university’s effort to maintain and strengthen its R1 designation as an institution of very high research activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. 

“This is an example of how strategic investment can provide a piece of equipment that can be truly game-changing,” Delahanty said. “Thirteen faculty members from three different departments will be able to submit more innovative grant applications using this microscope.”  

Because of the new microscope, faculty can apply for even more federal research grants because having the equipment will allow scientists to expand their areas of inquiry. 

The Game Changer program accepted proposals with budgets of up to $1 million. The university's Division of Research and Economic Development allocated about $1 million for this program, with cost-sharing from various university partner contributors including AMLCI and BHRI. This year, it is expected to pay for more than $2 million in requests for six proposals, including the microscope.  

Torsten Hegmann
Torsten Hegmann, Ph.D.

Torsten Hegmann, Ph.D., director of the AMLCI, said the new microscope would allow for the visualization of chemical bonds to target events and structures that are inaccessible with traditional microscopy methods, as well as allow for the observation of minute details, even inside complex 3-D specimens.  

In addition, it will allow for the study of “specimens maintained in as close to physiological conditions as possible for cell constructs and tissue,” from video-rate imaging to long-term observations of sensitive specimens, he said.  

 One of the microscope’s benefits for soft matter research, such as liquid crystals, is its ability to capture rapid imaging to explore dynamic processes, he said. 

Hegmann said the microscope can play a role in the development and understanding of new drugs for significantly improved control of drug delivery in cancer treatment and answering other research questions that can help to improve the environment by limiting the threats of micro- and nano-plastics in our food, water and soil. 

POSTED: Wednesday, August 30, 2023 09:23 AM
Updated: Wednesday, August 30, 2023 09:32 AM
Lisa Abraham