Special Project: 940nm Light Head

Dr. Daryl Hurd uses the model organism C. elegans for varied research in genetic controls of behavior and sensory and motor function. He had been happily using the NIGHTSEA Model SFA Stereo Microscope Fluorescence Adapter GFP- and RFP-tagged specimens and contacted us with a new challenge:

“My laboratory is interested in using C. elegans to study photobiostimulation, the process in which near infrared light (NIR, ~900nm) excites specific components of the mitochondrial electron transport chain and increases metabolic output in living systems. Preliminary data indicate that growth rate and total reproductive brood size are increased upon irradiation with ~5J/cm2 daily dose. I have been using a low power 950nm source designed for security systems, but exposure times are ~20 minutes to achieve the desired dose. I wonder if it would be possible for you to make a custom light head for the SFA that emits in this range?”

While it wasn’t a fluorescence application, it was an interesting challenge, and an opportunity to help Daryl get more use from his system. We identified a 940nm NIR LED with the right optical, electrical, and physical characteristics so that we could build it into our standard SFA light head package. This custom light head could then be used as a simple swap-in replacement for the fluorescence excitation light heads. We sent him the prototype infrared light head so that he could evaluate it before committing to purchase, and it was a resounding success:

“With the custom light head provided by NIGHTSEA exposure times have been cut from ~20 minutes to ~20 seconds. This will allow for many more experiments to be run.”

This project turned out very well, and we were happy to be able to build on our standard system to provide enhanced research capability.

Daryl Hurd, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Biology Department at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY.