Video Infographic: The Fall of Film and Its Effect on Your Western Blots

Watch the video below to see how the past 23 years have contributed to the volatility of the photographic film market, and to show why the availability of film for your Western blots may be at risk.


Solution – Switch to Digital Imaging for Chemiluminescent Western Blots


Solution – Switch to Infrared Detection and Quantitative Western Blots on LI-COR® Odyssey Imagers

Read our previous blog posts to find out the full story behind why the future of film for life science research may be in peril:

The Cost of Film Production May Give Us One Clue Why Film May Not Be Available for Western Blot Imaging in the Future?

Do you know which raw materials are required for producing photographic film? Or, how the changing prices of these goods affect your final cost as a consumer?

The raw materials for film production are some of the world’s most mined natural resources, and thus subject to swinging market prices. Let’s take a closer look at the layers of photographic film and the goods and processes that go into manufacturing the final product. But first, a question:


(See the bottom of this post for the answer. :-))

Here is an example of the layers you find in a typical photographic film – the kind you might use for developing Western blots in your lab.
Composition of Film
The top layer, the layer that reacts to light exposure, is the Photosensitive Emulsion Layer. This layer is dull and tacky, and is produced by dissolving silver bars in nitric acid to produce silver halide grains. These photosensitive grains are then suspended and bound in a gelatin solution made from animal hide and bones.

The middle layer, the Film Base, is smooth and shiny. There are three major types of film bases:

  • Cellulose nitrate,
  • Cellulose acetate, and
  • Polyester.

Cellulose nitrate is not commonly used because it is highly flammable. Acetate film was most commonly used between 1920 and 1970. But, because acetate base tends to deteriorate over time and with the invention of polyester, a move toward a new type of film was made in the 1950s. Polyester film, the type primarily used today, is composed from crude oil, or more specifically, petroleum byproducts.

The final layer is the Anti-Halation Layer. This layer prevents halo artifacts from refracted light and is composed of an opaque, heavy color dye. This layer is washed away during processing to reveal a transparent negative, which, in Western blotting, is the final data image.

Stay tuned for more information on how the prices of silver and crude oil affect the prices of film.

Related posts:

Answer to poll question: Yes, photographic film is composed of everything from petroleum to cellulose from animal byproducts. Did you guess correctly?.

What if Film Was No Longer Available? How Would You Capture Your Western Blot Images?

Photographic FilmFilm has been the dominant technology for capturing images for photographers, medical practitioners, and researchers for more than 250 years. Now it’s no longer the sole option. Digital technologies are beginning to impact the future of film. Here’s how and why:

  1. Digital technology is being widely adopted across many different fields including photography, medicine, and scientific research.
  2. The affordability and supply of film has been threatened with the increase of raw material and production costs.
  3. New rules and regulations have been passed in relation to global preservation and green movements.

Because of this, several prominent companies including Kodak and Fujifilm have reevaluated their business initiatives and made decisions regarding the manufacture of certain film-related products.

Get out of the DarkroomIn addition, many universities and institutions are reconsidering their rules and regulations for the disposal and use of hazardous wastes. In general, policies are being made more stringent and punishments for non-compliance more severe. In fact, many new research and medical buildings are being built without darkrooms or the equipment necessary to process film.

Being aware of how these issues, and others, affect the future of film is essential to being able to continue the same quality, or better quality work than you are producing now. Preparing for the future by considering alternative imaging options is becoming more and more essential—especially when processing film comes with additional expenditures and concerns, and requires protocols that rely on toxic chemicals and large amounts of water.

Our next blog post will show you how the cost of raw materials influences the availability and cost of film.

Related Posts:

  • What is the Future of Film Use for Western Blot Imaging?
  • The History of Film. What Does It Tell Us About The Future of Using Film for Western Blot Imaging?
  • The History of Film. What Does It Tell Us About The Future of Using Film for Western Blot Images?

    small green question markIf you capture Western blot images, chances are you use photographic film and it is fundamental in your daily research activities. But, how much do you really know about it?

    Test your knowledge with the questions below:

    Poll Question 1:


    More than 100 years later, Louis Daguerre, a French painter, placed liquid iodine on a silvered copper plate to capture images. He called this process daguerreotyping. Later, in 1875, German physicist, Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen accidentally discovered the X-ray while observing one of these photographic plates.

    Poll Question 2:


    In 1885, George Eastman, an American entrepreneur, invented the first flexible film. Four years later, the first film camera was introduced and KODAK was born.

    Poll Question 3:


    Follow the next five blog posts to learn about how film’s solid foundation and wide use has been interrupted by recent technological developments.

    Related Posts:

    • What is the Future of Film Use for Western Blot Imaging?
    • ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

      Here are the answers to the questions. Let’s see how you did.

      • Poll Question 1: white to purple
      • Poll Question 2: his wife’s hand and wedding ring
      • Poll Question 3: 1979

      How did you do? Tweet us your score (3 of 3, 2 of 3, 1 of 3) to @WesternBlotting. We’ll retweet you!

      Weak Chemiluminescent Western Blot Signals: Possible Cause 3 – Wrong Membrane Placement

      How to Place the Blot on the C-DiGit Blot ScannerSo, we’ve talked about how the substrate rate of reaction can cause weak Western blotting signals and how the amount of substrate used can affect signals on chemiluminescent Western blots. But, there are other possible causes of weak signals.

      The third possible cause of weak signals is placement of the blot for imaging on the detection systems, since systems may vary as to how the blot should be placed on the scanning surface. Why is this important? Well, if the blot is placed incorrectly, you may or may not be able to visualize bands. If bands are visualized, they will be substantially reduced in signal.

      As an example, LI-COR has two imaging systems for chemiluminescent Western blots: the Odyssey® Fc Dual-Mode Imaging System and the C-DiGit® Blot Scanner. The placement of the blot depends on which one you use.

      For the Odyssey Fc Dual-Mode Imaging System, the membrane needs to be placed FACE UP on the imaging tray.

      However, for the C-DiGit Blot Scanner, the membrane needs to be placed on the scanning surface FACE DOWN. (For a quick video demonstrating this, watch “How to Place Your Blot on the C-DiGit Blot Scanner“.) Below is an experiment we did to look at the performance differences between imaging the blot correctly (protein side down) and imaging the blot protein side up on the C-DiGit Scanner. (Images are normalized to the Lookup Table (LUT) of the correctly imaged blot.)

      Correctly Imaged Blot Incorrectly Imaged Blot
      Images Correctly Imaged Chemiluminescent Blot on C-DiGit Scanner Incorrectly Imaged Chemiluminescent Blot on C-DiGit Scanner
      Conditions:
      Substrate SuperSignal® West Dura1 SuperSignal® West Dura1
      Imaging Method Blot imaged protein side facing down Blot imaged protein side facing up
      Performance LOD – 156 ng LOD – 625 ng

      1SuperSignal West Dura results are comparable to those obtained with WesternSure™ PREMIUM Chemiluminescent Substrate.

      For more hints and tips, stay tuned to future blog posts. And if you would like to try some FREE Western Blot Analysis Software, download Image Studio Lite today!

      Related posts:
      Weak Signals on Chemiluminescent Western Blots: Possible Cause 1 – Substrate Rate of Reaction
      Weak Signals on Chemiluminescent Westerns: Possible Cause 2 – Not Enough Substrate