Leaf Analysis Using Motion Controllers

Dr. Dan Chitwood researches how to grow drought-resistant crops in order to combat climatic stresses, chronic water shortages that impact agricultural output, and population pressures demanding more crop yield. He aims to learn how to engineer crops to be resilient to high temperatures and flourish with less water by using genetic resources from naturally drought resistant wild tomato plants. By analyzing these wild plants, he hopes to create domestic plants with the wild relative’s resistance to drought.

Dr. Chitwood analyzes modified plant’s leaf structure using a white light confocal displacement sensor to determine the thickness of the leaf and venation – two key traits in drought tolerance. To do so, he contracted Custom Lab Software Systems (a developer of precision instrumentation) to build the optical measurement instrument – Micron Level 3-D Confocal Profiling and Thickness Measurement System.

Micron Level 3-D Confocal Profiling and Thickness Measurement System

This optical measurement instrument uses Galil DMC 4020 motion controllers to position perfectly aligned beams from white light confocal displacement sensors on upper and lower surfaces of a leaf sample and scan leaf surface in a predefined pattern. This device measures the thicknesses of leaves and can create a detailed, 3-D morphology of the vascular structure.

This device needs to meet several criteria for the purpose of Dr. Chitwood’s study:

  • Time to mount and measure each leaf had to be between one and two minutes
  • Comprehensive, easy-to-use, robust user interface
  • Compact design that can be packed and moved effortlessly

Why Galil Motion Controllers?

Not only do the Galil DMC 4020 motion controllers meet all the features and performance that Dr. Chitwood and his team needed, the command language is intuitive and easy to learn.

How it Works

A PC running a Windows application sends motion commands to the DMC 4020 with the goal of moving the stage so that the beam generates a serpentine scanning path of the entire leaf surface. The DMC 4020 controller uses customized firmware in order to send precisely timed signals to the dual confocal sensors at fixed distances along the vector path. Dr. Chitwood and his team have already studied thousands of samples with the long-term goal of defining what genetic changes are helpful in producing more drought-tolerant, productive tomatoes.

Electromate supplies Galil motion controllers like the DMC 4020. For more information, get in touch with us today.