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Optimised imaging for wider applications

2nd December 2013


Imaging is at the heart of many analytical procedures and the latest microscope technologies are optimised for accuracy and ease of operation.

Super-resolution is a major trend in light microscopy. Extending its portfolio of super-resolution microscopy products, Leica has now launched the Leica SR GSD 3D, a wide-field system that not only offers 2D, but now also 3D super-resolution imaging of molecules and cellular structures.

Based on ground state depletion (GSD) or dSTORM technology, the wide-field fluorescence microscope attains resolutions of down to 20nm in the lateral and 50nm in the axial direction. The Leica SR GSD 3D also scores with its novel precision for localising single molecules, its system stability and its optical performance. These attributes are essential for reproducible, high-quality results in a very short time. The benefits of the Leica SR GSD 3D are rounded off by the easy operation of the fully automated system and software, says the company.

The new system is equipped with a 160x high-performance objective specifically developed for super-resolution microscopy. Its design is optimised for high-power laser emissions. The extremely low autofluorescence ensures a high signal-to-noise ratio, which is ideal for single molecule detection applications.

To enable the localisation of molecules in z direction - above and below the focal plane - the Leica SR GSD 3D uses the astigmatism effect. Astigmatism is actually an image aberration, but is created deliberately here with a cylindrical lens. Corresponding images allow determination of the z position of a detected molecule, thereby enabling 3D reconstruction.

To ensure reproducibility of results, the cylindrical lens is precisely positioned into the beam path as soon as the system is switched from 2D to 3D recording not by hand, but automatically by a single mouse click through software control.

The Leica SR GSD 3D has been optimised in several ways for reliable localisation results. All the optical components are apochromatically corrected to high Leica Microsystems standards. Building on this, the software enables precise calibration of the system for the localisation of molecules in x, y and z. Besides the standard calibration with gold beads, colour-specific calibration with fluorescence beads or dye molecules of the specimen is available. The special SuMo technology (SUpressed MOtion) ensures minimum drift and maximum stability during detection.

"3D visualisation of cellular structures with nanometre resolution allows scientists in biomedical research to gain new insights," explains Sebastian Tille, director of wide-field imaging at Leica Microsystems. "The new Leica SR GSD 3D is an excellent tool for gaining a better understanding of molecular structures or cellular protein transport processes, for example. Experts are already confirming the outstanding performance and reliability of the new system after first tests."

Interchangeable optical modules

Extending the capabilities of the fully customisable IX3 inverted microscope frame, Olympus has expanded its range of compatible, interchangeable optical modules. Ease-of-use and accuracy are vastly improved via new motorised components, which also present a cost efficient means to gradually upgrade to a fully motorised microscope system.

The IX3 series, with its novel 'open source' design offers a completely modular and flexible system. With a swappable deck design similar to a chest of drawers, optical modules are easily exchanged into the accessible infinite light path, moulding the IX3 microscope to the diverse requirements of the user.

Building upon this expandability, the new range includes a motorised right side port with C-mount (IX3-RSPCA) allowing access to additional components such as detectors and light sources that can be directed into the infinite light path, delivering greater freedom in time-lapse studies and live cell imaging techniques.

The Olympus motorised fast filter wheel (UFFWEM) can now also be integrated into the infinite light path using the new Olympus optical breadboard (IX3-EMDECK) deck adaptor platform. Motorised filter wheels can seamlessly switch between fluorescent channels in just 60mS, ideal for photo-manipulation experiments. To further improve the performance of these studies, the new excitation light measurement module (IX3-EXMAD) directly measures and records light intensity across the sample, for improved reproducibility and accurate quantitative analysis of light stimulation.

In another new development, Tec Microscopes, supplier of the MICROTEC range of light microscopes and accessories, has launched its 5megapixel MICROTEC ScopePad digital microscope camera. Combined with a 9.7inch display screen, the camera provides digital imaging, storage and transmitting and is equipped with stable, easy-to-use software.

It has a 1/2.5 CMOS sensor offering 5megapixels with selectable resolution, for example it can capture images at thirty frames per second at full resolution. The camera comes with a C-mount fitting enabling it to be easily attached to any make of microscope with the C-mount 0.5x adapter. The viewing screen may be tilted through ninety degrees making it ergonomically comfortable to work with.

The MICROTEC ScopePad is operated via a multi-touch screen. It has a TF card slot and is able to support an external mouse and USB flash drives via a USB cable.

The measurement software enables multiple calculations, including measuring angles and area cell count. It also provides contrast and exposure control.

Consolidation

In business news, Bruker has acquired Prairie Technologies, a provider of life science fluorescence microscopy products. The acquisition strengthens Bruker's position in life science markets, adding to the Bruker Nano Surfaces Division's existing life science atomic force microscopy (Bio-AFM) systems.

Headquartered near Madison, Wisconsin, USA, Prairie pioneered the use of multiphoton fluorescence microscopy. Its industry-leading multiphoton product offerings have enabled researchers to make revolutionary discoveries in neurobiology and cell biology.

"Prairie Technologies led the way in developing the multiphoton fluorescence microscopy field," said Mark R Munch, president of the Bruker MAT group. "Their Ultima two-photon microscopy product line and the new Opterra swept field multipoint scanning confocal fluorescence product line present new exciting areas of growth for Bruker, while providing significant synergies with our Bio-AFM offerings."

Scientists conducting uncaging experiments, optogenetics, simultaneous electrophysiology studies, as well as photoactivation, photostimulation and photoablation experiments, use Prairie Technologies' systems. The suite of product solutions for neurobiologists and cell biologists include the Ultimaand Ultima in-vivo two-photon microscopy product lines. These platforms and the many associated accessories and flexible configurations enable advanced brain slice and intra-vital studies deep into tissues to over 900 microns in penetration depth. In addition, the new Opterra swept field multipoint scanning confocal fluorescence microscope enables high-speed, live cell imaging and unsurpassed dynamic observation of fast cellular events.

Also in business news, Artemis CCD, a leading manufacturer of cooled CCD cameras, is to supply OEM grade cooled CCD cameras to NeutronOptics for the application of neutron imaging.

Neutron imaging compliments x-ray radiography, especially for materials opaque to x-rays or where damage may occur. In both cases a 'scintillator' film is used to convert the radiation to visible light that can then be imaged with a camera. But unlike x-rays, neutrons penetrate heavy metals, and even lead, to reveal structural details that are otherwise invisible, yet they are strongly scattered by light atoms such as hydrogen.

So neutron imaging can also reveal hidden details of the structure of organic materials such as paintings and tissues.

Theorem Alliance boosts medical imaging

Theorem Clinical Research has announced the addition of RadMD, a cutting-edge medical imaging expertise company, to its roster of strategic alliances.

"These kinds of alliances allow us to extend our capabilities to offer a greater depth and spectrum of services to our clients," said D Lee Spurgin Jr, Theorem senior vice president and general manager of medical device and diagnostic development. "When we work with partners that we already know and trust, we feel our clients get a better end result."

With the increasing utilisation of imaging in clinical research, there has been a greater demand for expertise on the use of medical imaging in clinical trials. RadMD offers novel services centred solely on the use of imaging in trials.

The company provides a consultative approach to implementing medical imaging endpoints based on extensive experience in the pharmaceutical development of both diagnostic and therapeutic drugs.

RadMD's services include expertise in constructing customised medical imaging solutions, a novel worldwide network of more than 600 physicians and medical imaging experts available for independent image evaluations or 'blinded reads', regulatory strategy, imaging endpoint justification and extensive imaging training capabilities.

"We are excited to be able to bring our imaging expertise in clinical development to Theorem's clientele, and look forward to working together to develop innovative products for our mutual customers and patients," said Doug Stefanelli, RadMD ceo and executive vice president.





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