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Two-Photon Direct Laser Writing of Ultracompact Multi-Lens Objectives

A new process has been introduced using multiphoton lithography for 3D printing objectives with multiple lenses. These objectives measure only about 100 micrometers in each direction and are well corrected for several optical aberrations. This process is demonstrated for 3D printing an objective directly onto the end of an optical fiber, as well as an array of lenses directly onto a camera sensor. Potential applications include improved endoscopes, very small drones/robots with vision, and more. Imaging was performed using a Nikon Eclipse LV-100-DA industrial microscope

Learn More @ Nature

Microscopy Masters

Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute need your help! The project, termed 'Microscopy Masters', is recruiting citizen scientists to help mark protein locations in cryo-electron microscopy data. By combining many thousands of images of the same type of protein in different orientations, a near-atomic resolution 3D model can be produced. But automatic identification of proteins in image data by computers doesn't always work so well, so that's where you come in! Check out the website below to learn more and get started.


A Photoswitch Made Using Just One Photosensitive Molecule

Researchers from the US and China have succeeded in making a photoswitch with long-term stability (about 1 year) using a single photosensitive molecule. This is part of a long-term trend towards transmitting information using light rather than electricity, which is faster and allows for the use of smaller components. Exposure to visible light results in an open conformation, allowing the molecule to function as a conductor. Exposure to UV light results in a closed conformation that acts as an insulator.

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Nikon Small World Competition Judging

A huge thank you to our amazing panel of judges for the 2016‪ Nikon Small World‬ and ‪‎Small World in Motion‬ competitions: Florida State University's Eric Clark, It's Okay To Be Smart's Joe Hanson, National Geographic's Rachel Link, Northwestern University's Brian Mitchell, andNational Institutes of Health (NIH)'s Clare Waterman. We can't wait to announce the image winners in October and the video winners in December.

Researchers Demonstrate a 100x Increase in the Amount of Information that can be 'Packed Into Light'

A collaborative research team with members from South Africa and Tunisia have demonstrated a new strategy for increasing the bandwidth of light-based communication systems. Usually information is encoded in the color, polarization, phase, etc. But by using a digital hologram written into an LCD, the bandwidth of such communications systems is increased by 100-fold

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Meta-Lens Works in the Visible Spectrum, Sees Smaller than a Wavelength of Light

Researchers at Harvard have introduced a new compact planar metalens with performance approaching conventional glass lenses. The metalens consists of a planar array of nanometer-sized titanium dioxide pillars that act as waveguides, together forming a metasurface. Excitingly, this lens functions with high efficiency across the visible spectrum, at high resolution (NA = 0.8), and is cheap to manufacture. According to the authors, the small size of these new lenses is especially promising for wearable optics, such as contact lenses.

Learn More @ ScienceDaily

Quantitative Assessment of Fluorescent Proteins

A new article in Nature Methods: Quantitative assessment of fluorescent proteins, provides a large-scale head-to-head analysis of over 40 different fluorescent protein varieties with respect to important properties, including brightness, photobleaching, monomericity, and pH stability. Fluorescentproteins are important biomolecules for visualizing the dynamics of living systems, and this work highlights the performance of many of the best modern varieties.

Learn More @ Nature Methods

Stain-Free Histopathology by Programmable Supercontinuum Pulses

Researchers are exploring exciting new approaches towards histopathology. Instead of costly and disruptive conventional staining and sectioning procedures, a user-friendly multiphoton microscope design is applied to image fresh tissue only minutes after removal. The technique allows for high contrast multi-channel imaging, and is poised to greatly expedite pathology ‪work.

Learn More @ Nature Photonics

CLIP-170 Microtuble Found to Bind Tightly to Formins to Accelerate Actin Filament Elongation

New research elucidates a mechanism by which growing microtubule (MT) plus ends direct accelerated actin filament assembly, thus exerting control over actin network organization. The MT plus-end-associated protein CLIP-170 is found to strongly bind formins, thus stimulating elongation of actin filaments. Formins play an important role in the polymerization of actin, associating with the fast-growing (barbed) end of actin filaments. The authors observed the recruitment of CLIP170-mDia1 complexes to MT plus-ends by EB1, correlating with accelerated growth of actin filaments attached to the MT.

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Hydrogels as Cell Culture Substrates

There's a new review article in Nature Methods about the use of hydrogels as cell culture substrates. Typical cell culture plastics and glasses are rigid 2D substrates that poorly recreate in vivo conditions. Hydrogels are swell-able 3D polymer networks that mimic several important mechanical and chemical properties of soft tissues, with many varieties commercially available. The use hydrogels, and other recently developed biomaterials, increases the physiological relevance of cell cultures as model systems.

Learn More @ Nature Methods

Sir Harold Kroto (October 7, 1939 – April 30, 2016)

Nikon would like to extend condolences to the family and friends of Sir Harold Kroto, who passed away this past Saturday at the age of 76. Dr. Kroto was perhaps best known for the discovery of fullerenes, including 'buckyballs', for which he shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He has previously served as a judge for our Small World competition. He will be sorely missed.

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Holographic Imaging of Hidden Objects

Researchers at SMU will be spear-heading an effort by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) focused on developing advanced holographic techniques to image objects hidden from view - for example behind a wall, around the corner, or otherwise obstructed. DARPA wishes to develop the fundamental technologies needed to perform such indirect imaging in environments that strongly scatter light.

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Author Spotlight: Michael Davidson

Michael Davidson was a brilliant scientist, artist and photographer. The creator of MicroscopyU, Davidson also authored many scientific articles on the subject of photomicrography. His photomicrographs were published in more than a thousand national and international scientific journals, popular magazines and newspapers.  In addition, Davidson’s photomicrography won more than 40 awards in scientific and industrial photography competitions and has been exhibited at over 50 locations nationwide.

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New Method for Performing Fluorescence-Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM)

A new method for performing Fluorescence-Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM) using a single image. Instead of sequentially acquiring many images at different phases using an electronically modulated image intensifier, two images phase shifted by 180 degrees are recorded simultaneously on the same camera chip by directing photoelectrons to one of two holding areas, dependent on the phase of a digital clock signal. This new method will likely make live-cell time lapse FLIM imaging faster and more accurate by minimizing artifacts such as motion-induced blur.

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Super-Resolution Expansion Microscopy (ExM) Using Conventional Antibody-bound Synthetic Dyes and Fluorescent Proteins

Researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated super-resolution Expansion Microscopy (ExM) using conventional antibody-bound synthetic dyes and fluorescent proteins (previous work used labeled DNA oligos). Their method works by linking fluorophores to a 'swellable' hydrogel using the cross-linking reagent methacrylic acid N-hydroxysuccinimidyl ester. Following protease digestion of the sample, the hydrogel polymer can be expanded by a factor of ~4 via dialysis, physically separating spatial features previously below the diffraction limit and yielding ~65 nm lateral resolution.

Learn More @ Nature Methods

New Graphene Photodetectors Introduced with Strain-Tunable Photoresponsivity

New graphene photodetectors have been introduced with strain-tunable photoresponsivity. 2D graphene sheets can be "crumpled" into a 3D structure, increasing the areal density and thus the effective absorbance cross-section. Structural parameters are adjusted by applying mechanical strain in the lateral directions. Furthermore, strain-tunable wavelength selection is demonstrated by integrating colloidal photonic crystals in the graphene layer.

Learn More @ Wiley Online Library

New Fluorescent protein-based Sensors for Detecting Nitric Oxide (NO)

New fluorescent protein-based sensors for detecting nitric oxide (NO), an important free radical and signaling molecule in many types of cancers. The fluorescent protein is fused to a well characterized bacterial NO binding domain. NO binding causes a conformational change bringing the moiety closer to the fluorescent protein chromophore, diminishing fluorescence. Importantly, fluorescence brightness scales linearly with NO concentration, allowing for absolute quantitation of NO levels. Microscopy equipment was provided by the Nikon Center of Excellence Graz.

Learn More @ Nature Methods

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