Neon Larva

Nov 16, 2021

Glowing like neon, the anatomy of this Chironimidae larva (midge) is made visible through the darkfield compensated polarised light configuration on the optical microscope. A compensation plate in the light path transforms phase information into colour that our eyes can detect. Its muscle fibers can be seen to 'glow' in different colours, blue, cyan, orange and green. The observed colour is dependent on the orientation of the muscle fibers, whilst the intensity of the colour is dependent on the density of the bundles. The muscle fibers appear to glow because they exhibit an opto-structural property called birefringence. The complicated system of branches is its vascular system which delivers oxygen rich blood to all parts of its body. It can be seen from the contents of its intestine that it clearly enjoys a vegetarian meal. The shiny yellow particles within the intestine appear to glow yellow due to strong birefringence effects. Differentiating pigmentation cells on its epidermis are clearly visible. The image consists of 7 focus stacks all of which are seamlessly blended together to appear as one high resolution image.


The image was created as a fusion of art and science and to show how beautiful nature is. It shows how something that is generally thought of as being 'disgusting' can look so beautiful when you know how to look. The image was made with a desire to show the immense complexity of life and to inspire people to wonder, explore, and investigate the natural world.
The image was created for the Olympus Life Science 2022 calendar which will be distributed internationally to universities and research institutions, hospitals and clinics and other Olympus Life Science customers.

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Darkfield Compensated Polarised Light / Olympus BX51, X-Line 10x/0.4, Sony A7 RII