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Imaging techniques for observing laminar geometry in the feather shaft cortex

DOI: 10.1111/jmi.12820 DOI Help

Authors: Christian Laurent (University of Southampton) , Sharif Ahmed (University of Southampton) , Richard Boardman (University of Southampton) , Richard Cook (University of Southampton) , Gareth Dyke (Babeş‐Bolyai University; University of Debrecen) , Colin Palmer (University of Bristol) , Philipp Schneider (University of Southampton) , Roland De Kat (University of Southampton)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Journal Of Microscopy

State: Published (Approved)
Published: June 2019

Abstract: Bird feather shafts are light, stiff, and strong, but the fine details of how their structure, mechanics and function relate to one another remains poorly understood. The missing piece in our understanding may be the various fibrous layers that make up the shaft's cortex. Detailed imaging techniques are needed to enable us to capture, analyse and quantify these layers before we can begin to unravel the relationship between their structure, mechanics and function. We show that Serial‐Block‐Face scanning electron microscopy, scanning confocal polarised microscopy and synchrotron‐based computed tomography are three suitable techniques to investigate layer thickness and fibre orientation in the feather cortex. These techniques and other are discussed in terms of their ability to resolve the fibrous laminar structure of the feather cortex, on sample preparation, and on throughput. Annotated images are presented for each and less suitable techniques are presented in the supplement.

Journal Keywords: β‐Keratin; Fibres; Imaging; Microscopy; PolScope; Synchrotron X‐Ray Imaging; SBF‐SEM; SEM; uCT

Subject Areas: Earth Science


Instruments: I13-2-Diamond Manchester Imaging