Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Automatic measuring stations for pollen

04.02.2009
The snow is thawing, the first crocuses are fighting their way through the cold earth into the daylight and hay fever sufferers are already pulling out their handkerchiefs. A new type of measuring station will automatically determine the pollen count and thus improve the forecast.

"And here is the pollen forecast for tomorrow: Low levels of alder and hazel..." – we are all familiar with such reports from the radio and the television, but they are not always very reliable.


The forecast is based on the weather and the amount of pollen currently in the air. The problem is that few data on current pollen levels are available, as it is difficult and time-consuming to obtain them. Ambient air flows onto a piece of adhesive tape, and the pollen sticks there.

Laboratory workers examine the trapped pollen under a light-optical microscope and count the quantities of different grains. This is a tedious procedure and is only carried out at selected locations. A truly reliable forecast would require a closer-knit network of measuring stations.

The German weather service has therefore ordered 15 measuring stations: Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT and for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine ITEM have developed these in collaboration with scientists working for Helmut Hund GmbH. The innovative feature is the analysis method: The stations determine the pollen composition fully automatically and transmit the data to the weather service. "To do this the stations, which are housed in a large container, ingest a controlled amount of air. The pollen grains contained in this air are cleansed of any impurities and deposited on a carrier," says Prof. Dr. Thomas Berlage, director of Life Science Informatics at FIT.

The object carrier, a thin sheet of glass, is covered with a layer of gel. The pollen grains sink into this gel. A light-optical microscope automatically takes pictures of the pollen. However, there is a difficulty: In these two-dimensional images, the primarily spherical pollen grains – regardless whether they come from birch, hazel or alder trees – are only displayed as circles. When viewed in three dimensions, however, the different types of pollen exhibit differences such as furrows. "To overcome this difficulty, the microscope examines 70 different layers by automatically readjusting the focus 70 times," explains Berlage. In some views the highest point of a pollen is in focus, in others the center. For each level, the system calculates the points that are most clearly pictured.

It then combines all these points to form a two-dimensional image that contains the three-dimensional information – the image shows the "flattened" top half of the pollen. If a pollen grain has a furrow at this point, it can be seen on the image. From this information, the system calculates certain mathematical features, compares these with a database, and determines the type of pollen. The results are available within one or two hours and are transmitted to the weather service via a network connection.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Berlage | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fit.fraunhofer.de

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht The genes are not to blame
20.07.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Targeting headaches and tumors with nano-submarines
20.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>