In December 2009, Nikon announced it had signed an agreement with the University of California, San Francisco Office of Technology Management for Structured Illumination Microscopy (SIM) technology. Under the terms of the agreement, UCSF is licensing its technology to Nikon to make N-SIM enabled microscopes. The new microscope system incorporates the technology licensed from UCSF and is designed to realize resolution higher than can be achieved by conventional optical microscopes.
“The N-SIM super resolution system utilizes Nikon‟s innovative new approach to „Structured Illumination Microscopy‟ providing double the resolution of standard microscopes at speeds capable of studying dynamic nanoscopic events in living cells. We at Nikon Instruments are very excited to announce its availability for purchase,” said Stephen Ross, General Manager of Products and Marketing, Nikon Instruments Inc. “This system will allow scientists to investigate questions in ways never possible before.”
There is a universal desire among top-end life science researchers to observe tissues and cells more clearly. Optical microscopes are essential for this purpose. However, if multiple objects such as protein molecules cluster at distances of less than 200nm apart, conventional optical microscopes cannot identify them as single objects. In this case, other instrumentation such as electron microscopes previously had to be used.
Now, Nikon introduces super resolution fluorescence microscopy technology which greatly exceeds the resolution limits of conventional optical microscopes, making it
possible to view microstructures and nanostructures of fixed and living cells with molecular-scale resolution. These dramatic achievements for the Nikon Super Resolution Microscope N-SIM are noted below.
Nearly double the resolution of conventional optical microscopes:
Nikon‟s N-SIM microscopy system can produce two times the resolution of conventional optical microscopes by combining SIM technology licensed from UCSF and based on the world renowned Eclipse Ti research inverted microscope with Nikon‟s legendary CFI Apo TIRF 100x oil objective lens (N.A. 1.49), developed using unique optical technologies and manufacturing techniques. The SIM technology was developed by Mats G.L. Gustafsson, PhD, John W. Sedat, PhD and David A. Agard, PhD, of UCSF; Agard is currently a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at UCSF and Gustafsson is a group leader at HHMI‟s Janelia Farm Research Campus.
Mats Gustafsson spearheaded the initial work and introduced SIM in 2000 while at UCSF. SIM takes advantage of moiré patterns, which are produced by overlaying one pattern with another. The sample under the lens is observed while it is illuminated by a special grid pattern of light. Several different light patterns are applied, and the resulting moiré patterns are captured each time by a digital camera. Computer software algorithms then extract the high spatial frequency information in the moiré images and translate it into two- and three-dimensional, high-resolution reconstructions.
Time resolution of 0.6 sec/frame, the fastest in the industry:
N-SIM provides the fastest imaging capability in the industry, with a time resolution of 0.6 sec/frame and is effective for live-cell imaging.
New TIRF-SIM and 3D-SIM imaging technique:
The newly developed TIRF-SIM illumination technique enables Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) observation with higher resolution than conventional TIRF microscopes and gives more detailed structural information near the cell membrane. In addition, another new 3D-SIM illumination technique has the capability of optical sectioning of specimens, enabling the visualization of more detailed cell spatial structures.