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Posted in | Microscopy | Nanoanalysis

Max Planck Innovation Grants Rights for Developing New Nanoscopic Method to Leica Microsystems

Published on October 13, 2009 at 5:29 AM

Max Planck Innovation, the technology transfer organization of the Max Planck Society, grants Leica Microsystems, Wetzlar, an exclusive license for implementing the latest generation of optical microscopes with a resolution far below the diffraction limit (nanoscopes). This innovative optical nanoscopy, named GSDIM (ground state depletion microscopy followed by individual molecule return), achieves image resolutions in the nanometer range - even in conventional wide field microscopes. GSDIM was developed by Professor Stefan Hell, director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, and his team.

True-to-detail imaging of the spatial arrangement of proteins and other biomolecules in cells and observing molecular processes - GSDIM makes this possible for researchers due to resolutions beyond the diffraction limit. The more insight science gains into these basic processes of life, the better it can find the causes of previously incurable diseases and develop suitable therapies.

One of the strengths of GSDIM is that it uses conventional fluorescence markers to image proteins or other biomolecules within the cells with sharpness down to a few nanometers. This includes fluorophores, which are routinely used in biomedical work, such as fluorescent proteins and rhodamines.

With GSDIM, the fluorescent molecules in the specimen are almost completely switched off using laser light. However, individual molecules spontaneously return to the fluorescent state, while their neighbours remain non-illuminating. In this way, the signals of individual molecules can be acquired sequentially using a highly sensitive camera system and their spatial position in the specimen can be measured and stored. An extremely high-resolution image can then be created from the position of many thousands of molecules. This enables cell components that are situated very close to one another and cannot be resolved using conventional wide field fluorescence microscopy to be spatially separated and sharply reproduced in an image.

"We are glad to continue the already very fruitful cooperation with Prof. Hell and the Max Planck Institute with this groundbreaking and promising technology," explains Dr. Stefan Traeger, head of the Life Science Division at Leica Microsystems. "With GSDIM technology, we have the potential of further expanding our innovation leadership in the market for super-resolution light microscopy and nanoscopy. We want to be able to offer maximum-resolution microscopy in the future to an even wider group of users in the life sciences." Prof. Stefan Hell explains: "Leica Microsystems was by far the first company to take light microscopy's historical breakthrough of the diffraction limit and implement this in products. We are glad that with GSDIM, Leica is making available another nanoscopic method - which complements STED microscopy - worldwide."

Hell has already invented the 4Pi and STED technologies, which achieve ultra-high resolutions in the nanoscale. For the Leica TCS 4PI Microscope, Leica Microsystems received the German Business Innovation Award in 2005; for STED technology, Prof. Hell was awarded the German Future Prize by Federal President Dr. Horst Köhler in 2006.

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