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Leica SR GSD Imaging System Selected as Top 10 Innovation of 2011

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In its January issue, The Scientist magazine selected the Leica SR GSD Super-resolution Imaging System as one of the “Top 10 Innovations of 2011.”

The Scientist invited members of the life science community to submit descriptions of exciting tools that made an impact in research this year and a panel of expert judges evaluated and ranked the technologies.

The Leica SR GSD (Super-resolution, Ground State Depletion) imaging system was designed to address a particular imaging problem in an innovative way.

Standard fluorescent microscopes cannot resolve objects less than 200 nm apart because their emitted light waves overlap.

There are different approaches to surpassing this limit. One method, stochastic super-resolution microscopy, gets around this hurdle by illuminating only a few random molecules in the field of view at a time, taking a picture, and then repeating the process thousands of times until all the molecules have been illuminated and imaged.

Neighboring objects are unlikely to be illuminated at the same time and thus can be visually separated.

“However,” says Chris Vega, PhD, Marketing Manager at Leica Microsystems, “the method had two shortcomings: the need for specialized fluorescent labels and the occurrence of drift during image acquisition. Both have been addressed in the new Leica SR GSD.”

The random-illumination strategy has traditionally required specialized photoactivatable labels, but Leica Microsystems’ new approach involves high-powered laser excitation of standard fluorescent labels, which causes them to randomly switch to a temporary dark state.

“The Leica SR GSD allows us to use the set of fluorescent ALEXA dyes and antibodies that we are also using for classic epifluorescence,” says Ralf Jacob of Philipps-Universität in Marburg, Germany, who owns one of the systems. “This is a great advantage.”

Leica Microsystems’ dedication to Super-resolution technology doesn’t stop with the Leica SR GSD.

Leica was the first to offer commercial Super-resolution confocal systems, starting with the Leica TCS 4pi and then the Leica TCS STED.

Leica Microsystems continues to advance STED imaging technology in collaboration with the Max Planck Society and the German Cancer Research Center.