New Lab Debuts for Biomedical Engineering Program

Posted on September 17, 2014

New laboratory space with an array of specialized equipment is now ready for use by students in the Biomedical Engineering program.

The laboratory occupies rooms on the third floor of Libermann Hall near the Biomedical Engineering program offices and the office of Dr. John Viator, the program director. The laboratory has a number of very sophisticated tools, Viator explained, which will enable students and faculty members to perform high-level work on biomedical problems.

Among the new hardware is a tunable laser, one of the two bench-mounted, water-cooled lasers in the lab. The tunable laser makes it possible to adjust the wavelength of the light being emitted, making it a key tool for a wide range of tasks related to detecting and evaluating organic compounds, which can be identified by how they react to the wavelength and quality of light striking them.

The lab has an apparatus that can transform tap water into inert, chemically pure water needed for biomedical lab work. It also has a number of state-of-the-art safety features, including a biosafety cabinet for handling delicate or dangerous cell and tissue cultures and a fume hood for isolating chemical vapors. The fume hood is the most visible portion of an extensive air-handling system, the vents and ducts of which nearly obscure the room's high ceiling.

The new lab also features specialized microscopes, one of which is stereoscopic and is used for three-dimensional objects; the images it magnifies, such as tiny circuit boards or other components, can be enhanced through software and displayed on a screen above the work area for improved visibility. A fluorescence microscope commands a corner of a room adjacent to the main lab. This costly optical instrument, Viator explained, can filter selected fluorescent wavelengths of light, allowing its operator to create images useful for detecting the presence of specific proteins, genes or cellular structures.