The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued three patents (US
7,626,694, US 7,828,695 and US 7,626,703) to Dr. Eric Betzig and Dr. Harald
Hess for their invention relating to super-resolution Photo-Activated-Localization
Microscopy (PAL-M). PAL-Microscopy is now protected by these patents. Carl
Zeiss MicroImaging GmbH had acquired an exclusive license for the distribution
of PAL-M in 2007.
The microscopy technology enables imaging of samples with a spatial resolution
of a few nanometers.
The basic idea of the invention is to generate sparse subsets of fluorescent
dye molecules at a time. This allows to accurately determine the position of
those individual fluorescent molecules with nanometer precision. Thus, serial
acquisition of images with consecutively phototransformed fluorescent molecules
permits the generation of a super-resolved image by rendering the superposition
of the localized molecules.
Carl Zeiss MicroImaging GmbH initiated the market launch of the ELYRA product
family towards the end of 2009. This includes the first commercially available
PAL-Microscope system ELYRA P.1 with a lateral resolution of less than 20 nm.
This is a factor of 10 higher than in conventional light microscopes and, together
with the very broad field of applications of the PAL-M technology, opens up
new application potential for commercially available light microscopes.
In the ELYRA PS.1 microscope system, PAL- Microscopy is combined with Structured
Illumination Microscopy (SIM), another super- resolution generating technology.
The SIM technology was licensed by Carl Zeiss MicroImaging GmbH from the University
of California in San Francisco in October 2009. The ELYRA product family microscopes
can also be combined with the Laser Scanning Microscopes LSM 710 or LSM 780
from Carl Zeiss.
In their Nature Methods publication of December 2008 (vol. 6, no. 1), renowned
researchers Jennifer Lippincott-Schwarz and Suliana Manley envisioned that super-resolution
microscopy technologies have the potential to revolutionize the understanding
of the fundamentals of cell biology. Meanwhile several research groups have
demonstrated this potential in numerous high- quality publications.