Nanojet transforms microscope into exact 3D-scope

Innovation brings 3D-nanometer precision to bio-imaging instrument.

− Nature is three-dimensional, so it has to be studied and viewed in 3D, says Professor Edward Hæggström from the Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) at the University of Helsinki.

Hæggström is in charge of the Nanojet team that develops high-tech solutions for imaging at the nanometer level, i.e. at a precision of one thousand millionth of a meter. The group’s new innovations have grown out of research into optical imaging instrumentation and bio-imaging applications.

 − The Nanojet group includes international top scientists of long standing and young talents from the ERL and the Division of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, as well as from the pharmacy laboratory at Åbo Akademi University, he says.

Three unique 3D- and nano-category products

Nanojet is now entering the general market with three unique product groups for bioimaging;

It has developed 2D-3D MAGIC cover slips, which permits you to take 3D pictures with a normal 2D microscope.

Further, the team has developed an optical 3D microscope with nanometer resolution: the Super-Resolution Nanoscope. This is like a Bio-SEM without the hazzle. There are also calibration samples for calibrating 3D imaging equipment: the Nanoruler and Nanostar.

Traceable and accurate measurement results

Calibration is a key concept in the Nanojet team; Nanoruler & Nanostar bring nanometer precision into imaging equipment. The calibration ensures the reliability of clinical test measurements, regardless of which laboratory made them.

− The idea for calibration samples in the nanometer category originated from a pharmaceutical research project, where used a thin film technique to produce layers that are only few nanometers thick. We now use this technique to produce step structures for bioimaging calibration, says Edward Hæggström.

3D microscopes and 3D imaging with cheap equipment

The 2D-3D MAGIC cover slips employ similar stair structures to give ordinary optical microscopes depth vision. This makes simple 3D imaging possible without use of expensive instruments.

− The background to the nanometer resolution 3D microscope, was in the need to see new structures at the nanometer scale, says Hæggström.

The final product is an optical 3D microscope with nanometer resolution, which can display the structures of technical and biological samples quickly, easily, and without sample preparation.

"The potential of our inventions, which is based on decades of high level research, looks very positive."

− The imaging industry in both Europe and the US has shown interest in the innovation. We have spoken with companies like Intel, Zeiss, Bruker, and Sensofar. Metrology institutes like PTB in Germany and VTT/MIKES in Finland, which define the norms for measuring techniques, have also been interested.

− The past years we have moved our research towards commercializing with support from TEKES. The potential of our inventions, which is based on decades of high level research, looks very positive. Nanojet will have a big role in creating the wealth of tomorrow within bio- and industrial technologies, Hæggström visualizes.

Nanojet in a nutshell

The Nanojet team introduces 3D nano accuracy into research and measuring devices used for e.g. R&D in pharmacy and medicine.

  • 2D-3D MAGIC cover slips make normal 2D microscopes take 3D images.
  • SUPER-RESOLUTION NANOSCOPE, a label-free 3D microscope with nanometer resolution.
  • NANORULER & NANOSTAR calibration samples bring nano-accuracy to 3D imaging.

The innovations bring 3D microscopes to the ordinary laboratory, and enable the study of ever smaller samples while retaining the reliability of results. Increasing ease of 3D imaging and imaging at nanometer scale will become common in the future. This increases the efficiency of e.g. developing new medicines.

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