Nikon acquires license from Harvard University for 'STORM' super-resolution microscopy

DECEMBER 8, 2009--The company says the new N-STORM Super Resolution microscope system exceeds traditional diffraction limits by an order of magnitude and is capable of 3-D image acquisition.

DECEMBER 8, 2009--Nikon (Melville, NY, USA; www.nikoninstruments.com), a supplier of advanced optical instruments, has signed a licensing agreement with Harvard University granting Nikon the rights to use the Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (STORM) technology. Under the terms of the agreement, Nikon will manufacture STORM-enabled microscopy systems and market them with the N-STORM name.

The STORM technology is an advanced form of optical microscopy, intended to enable life science researchers to observe tissues and cells more clearly. Optical microscopy is one of the most widely used imaging methods in biomedical research. However, the spatial resolution of optical microscopy, typically limited by the diffraction of light to several hundred nanometers, is substantially larger than typical molecular length scales in cells, leaving many biological investigations beyond the reach of light microscopy.

To overcome this limit, STORM was developed in the laboratory of Dr. Xiaowei Zhuang, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and professor of chemistry and chemical biology and professor of physics at Harvard University. STORM uses photo-switchable fluorescent probes to temporally separate the otherwise spatially overlapping images of individual molecules, allowing the construction of super-resolution images. Using this concept, 2-D and 3-D multicolor fluorescence images of molecular complexes, cells, and tissues with a few tens of nanometers resolution have been achieved. This new form of fluorescence microscopy allows molecular interactions in cells and cell-cell interactions in tissues to be imaged at the nanometer scale.

N-STORM is based on the Nikon Eclipse Ti research inverted microscope incorporating CFI60 objectives, which feature high numerical apertures developed using unique optical design, coatings, and manufacturing techniques. N-STORM provides enhanced resolution that is reportedly 10 times or better than that of conventional optical microscopes. The N-STORM instrumentation will be capable of multispectral 2-D and 3-D nanoscopy, with lateral resolution to approximately 20 nm and axial resolution to approximately 50 nm, extending the role of the optical microscope to near-molecular-level resolution.

"Nikon is highly anticipating this exciting development in super resolution, providing scientists with exceptional optical instrumentation that allows visualization of nanoscopic cellular structures and molecular activity at unprecedented image resolution," says Stanley Schwartz, vice president, Nikon Instruments. "This level of clarity has never been attainable by conventional light microscopy in a commercialized and easy-to-use microscopy system. Nikon is excited about this collaboration and looks forward to progressing together with our design engineers and the Zhuang lab to extend the capabilities and uses of STORM microscopy."

-- Posted by Vision Systems Design, www.vision-systems.com

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