As of today, this is what the Tweezers look like:
As you can see, the lab is not as much of a mess as it has been in the past. Besides that, let's take a tour of each part of the MT, now that it is completed (more or less).
In general, MT is actually an inverted microscope with magnets jammed into it. It is inverted because in a normal microscope, the light source comes from the bottom. However, in MT, the light source comes from the top down.
This is the light source. It is a red Thorlabs LED with a wavelength of 625nm. The LED has been collimated by an aspheric condenser lens, f=20mm. In MT, it is important to have a collimated light source with a low coherence length, as this allows for a better generation of diffraction rings around the beads, which is essential in taking measurements. The long, ventilated part on top of the LED is the heat sink. The LED is being held by a kinematic mount attached to our rail system. This allows for greater control over the positioning of the LED and direction of the light source.
Directly under the light source are two motors and the magnet setup. Here you see the rotary motor, which has been coupled to a sled moved by a stepper motor, which in turn has been mounted on the rails. The rotary motor holds the magnet holder, and allows for rotation of the magnets. By rotating the magnets, we can apply a torque to the magnetic beads, and thus, the DNA (or whatever is attached to the bead). The stepper motor that controls the sled allows for moving the rotary motor up and down in space, and therefore controls the strength of the force being applied to the beads (magnet closer to the bead, stronger force).
This is the magnet holder, and attached to the magnet holder are the magnets. They are two Neodymium magnets.
Here we can see the full-middle setup of the MT. Underneath the rotary motor is the XY table. We will couple our flow cell (still in production) to the top of this. The XY table allows manual movement of the flow cell in X and Y directions (i.e. horizontal to this picture.
This is the view underneath the XY stage. Not shown here is the microscope objective, which is a Nikon 100X oil-immersion objective. The objective attaches to the objective holder, which has been coupled to another sled controlled by a stepper motor. This stepper motor allows for control of the focus of the magnified image of the sample cell. By moving the objective closer or further away from the sample, we can change the focus of the image.
Light exiting the objective is reflected by this 45 degree mirror. I have momentarily removed it from the MT setup in order to make access to the underside of the MT easier. The mirror reflects the light to the camera setup.
And this is the camera setup. It consists of a lens tube, a 100mm aspheric focusing lens, and a JAI-Pulnix CCD camera. The light collected in the tube is focused onto the CCD, which then transmits black and white images of the sample to the computer.
This is the entirety of the MT setup. So, how does it work, and what is it's purpose? You'll just have to wait for another blog post...