ASCB 2014 Roundup

I just got back from the 2014 ASCB meeting, where I primarily talking to vendors.  I thought I’d share a few of the things that caught my eye:

  • Both Nikon and 3i are selling SPIM microscopes using the diSPIM system from ASI. 3i also will be selling the lattice light sheet system from Eric Betzig’s group (they have a sublicense from Zeiss).
  • KeraFAST is a new company designed to distribute materials produced by research labs. They are sort of like an Addgene for reagents beyond just plasmids. For instance, they have a number of labeling reagents published by various labs.
  • Mad City Labs has the RM21 microscope, which is an objective mount and stage on a rigid frame with regularly space holes for mounting optical cage systems or other components.
  • TAG optics has a fast focal scanning lens using standing acoustic waves to change the refractive index of a liquid.
  • Chromotek sells single chain alpaca antibodies, including anti-GFP and RFP antibodies, and ones that can be expressed in vivo to bind to cellular structures.
  • Nanolive has an interesting quantitative phase tomography microscope that allows mapping of refractive index of a cell in three dimensions, potentially allowing segmentation of organelles and other cellular structures without staining.
  • I heard about Gattaquant, a company selling test targets for super-resolution microscopes, from Nikon.
  • The Allen Institute for Cell Science is getting started, and is hiring.

4 thoughts on “ASCB 2014 Roundup

  1. Does anybody have experience with these TAG lenses (or the lenses from Optotune) for fast z-focusing in scanning microscopes? I think it could be an interesting option e.g. for 2 photon microscopy.
    But 1) where to put the lens in the beam path? Just in front of the objective would reduce the effective NA, because the aperture of the lens is quite small and usually the BFA is around e.g. 18 mm for 20x objectives, so I’m not sure if this is the best solution.
    2) Does the lens add any spatial/temporal dispersions (especially,if you’re using femto-second laser pulses), and does this dispersion change with the adjusted focal length?

    • I talked to the manufacturer at ASCB, and they can’t really be used for fast Z-focusing because they are driven by a standing acoustic wave, which means that the focal length is always oscillating. You can tune the oscillation rate but it seems to be in the tens of kHz, which is probably too fast for fast Z-focusing, although you could imagine using it in combination with single photon counting to tag the photons with the focal plane they were emitted from (possibly someone has done this already and TAG told me about it).
      I am not sure about dispersions, but there is at least one paper using it to generate a two-photon light sheet so it can’t be too terrible.

      • I see. Thanks for the explanation.
        Maybe at some point it will be possible to synchronize the TAG lens opto-acoustic modulation with a pulsed illumination source, therefore using the TAG lens always at the same certain focal length value. But this might by rather unfeasable right now, as typical lasers are ~80 MHz and the acoustic modulation is < 1 MHz.
        But it would be possible, as you mentioned, to use the lens as fast-scanning device in z, while scanning in xy with slow galvo mirrors … I don't think this would be more difficult than resonant scanning, at least the time-tagging.

        • Ok, I realized that these lenses will very likely *not* become available for 80 MHz, since speed of sound and the acoustic frequency determine the spatial frequency of the standing wave, which in turn determines the useful aperture of the lens …

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