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Advanced Condenser Systems: Abbe Condensers

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B-6) Crystallites

The images below compare performance of the Intel Play QX3 Computer Microscope with and without the aid of an organized cone of illumination from a simple two-lens Abbe substage condenser containing an aperture diaphragm. These photomicrographs are unretouched and were captured with the QX3 interactive software.

Pyridoxine was discovered in the 1930s as the result of a series of nutritional investigations of rats fed vitamin-free diets. The original compound that was isolated is pyridoxine, named due to its structural similarity with pyridine, but possessing an additional hydroxymethyl group in the para position. In the body, however, the parahydroxymethyl moiety is oxidized to an aldehyde and the similar group in the meta position is phosphorylated, resulting in the biologically active pyridoxal phosphate. This coenzyme is remarkably versatile, being involved in transaminations, decarboxylations, racemizations, and numerous modifications of amino acid side chains. Clinically, pyridoxine helps normal function of the brain, promotes blood cell formation, maintains the chemical balance among body fluids, and assists in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism. Common sources of pyridoxine include bananas, carrots, nuts, rice, fish, soybeans, and wheat germ. Symptoms of pyridoxine deficiency are very non-specific and hard to reproduce.

Birefringent Pyridoxine (Vitamin B-6) Crystallites
QX3 with mixing chamber (stock - 200x magnification)

QX3 with achromatic condenser (200x magnification)

The images above were recorded using the Intel Play QX3 microscope in transmitted brightfield mode equipped with crossed polarizers and a full-wave retardation plate. On the top is a digital image from a stock QX3 microscope using auxiliary illumination provided by a fiber optic light pipe through a hole drilled into the mixing chamber. The image on the bottom was recorded using the QX3 microscope body and a simple two-lens Abbe low numerical aperture substage condenser.

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