Carl Zeiss obtains licence for illumination technique

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Carl Zeiss has received a licence from the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) for the commercialisation of Multidirectional Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy (mSPIM), an advanced illumination technique for light sheet fluorescence microscopy.

Light sheet fluorescence microscopy is a relatively new application of the concept of light sheet illumination in biology and the life sciences. It is ideally suited for live imaging of up to millimetre-sized fluorescently labelled specimens for days under certain physiological conditions and with minimum photo-induced damage.

The mSPIM technique was developed by Dr Jan Huisken at the UCSF. It reduces absorption and scattering artefacts and provides an evenly illuminated focal plane. By alternating illumination of the sample from multiple sides, mSPIM overcomes two common problems in light sheet imaging techniques: shadowing effects in the excitation path and spreading of the light sheet by scattering in the sample.

The agreement grants Carl Zeiss the right to integrate the mSPIM technology in its microscopy systems. The first commercial light sheet fluorescence microscope (LSFM, also known as Selective Plane Illumination Microscope or SPIM) for multidimensional, ultrafast and long-term time-lapse imaging of live specimens is currently being developed at Carl Zeiss in Germany.

Together with Carl Zeiss' innovative concepts for light sheet microscopy, the licensing of mSPIM represents another big step forward in 3D microscopy of living specimens. This benefits diverse fields such as developmental biology, cell biology, neurobiology, stem cell research and marine biology.