Ion conductance microscopy was first invented by a man by the name of Hansma in 1989. This form of microscopy differed from others in the way that it was designed to retrieve information. Instead of a hard probe being stuck into a sample, this form of microscopy looked at the changes in ion conductance between two electrodes.
To do this, a nanopipette and sample are used. Both are in an electrolyte solution, and both have an electrode in them.
Then, an applied bias comes into the experiment, allowing researchers to observe everything at a high resolution level, from what is going on inside of the cell to an entire high resolution map of the cell itself, complete with every crevice and crack.
This single method of observation would change the way that scientists looked at microscopy forever, but it took a bit of practice to get those amazing high resolution images.
As studies were conducted using ion conductance microscopy, researchers discovered that different things had a different impact on the image that was created.
One of the first things that was discovered what that the size of the probe being used had a large impact on the quality of the image. It was discovered that smaller probes were more sensitive and able to produce high quality images than larger probes.
It was also discovered that the angle of the probe to the sample has a higher impact on sensitivity than most people would think. After multiple studies using ion conductance microscopy, researchers were able to determine that the ideal angle is 3 degrees.
When angles that are greater than this are used, the probe may have more sensitivity resulting in higher resolution images. In different modes, however, this can result in lower quality images. A smaller angle than this has less of an impact on the image, but it does still result in a lesser quality.
Another primary factor in producing a high-quality image when using ion conductance microscopy is how close the probe is to the sample. This varies depending on the mode that is being used. For example, in DC mode, the current tends to get lower as the probe gets closer to the surface. Because of this, it is ideal for researchers to make sure that the probe is close to the surface, but not so close as to distort the image.
After a researcher gets a great image using ion conductance microscopy, the work is still not done yet. Just because they have the image, it does not mean that it will be printed off perfect straight from the microscope.
Most lab technicians utilize one of two services for this job. The first popular method of choice is to download or purchase software to develop the image for them. This method is utilized by companies that need to print off large quantities of images for research purposes because it is more cost effective than the second most popular method.
The second most popular method is to hire a company to print off the images. Companies with an extensive amount of experience in this area usually have their own software, can add contrast or color to an image, and can produce amazing results.
This method is more popular among students and artists, or lab technicians that need to print off a small number of images. When one compares the cost of purchasing software with the cost of having a company develop a couple high resolution images, it is usually cheaper to hire someone else to do it. In addition to that, these companies usually produce better quality images, making it ideal for individuals that are using this for artwork.