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Life sciences and clinical instrumentation

Nanoscale antennas hold out the promise of
higher resolution optical imaging of nano objects

Andor iDus camera captures dramatic results that promise major advances for highly efficient solar energy photoelectric devices development, precise optical imaging and single molecule detection.

Andor iDus camera captures dramatic results that promise major advances for highly efficient solar energy photoelectric devices development, precise optical imaging and single molecule detection.

Nanoscale antennas hold out the promise of higher resolution optical imaging of nano objects, including proteins and DNA molecules, and converting solar energy into electricity at very high efficiencies. Now, a team from the University of Illinois led by Nicholas Fang and Kimani Toussaint has demonstrated a 1,000-fold increase in the UV-Visible optical response of devices based on nanoantennas periodic arrays.

First proposed by Robert L. Bailey in 1972, nanoantennas are analogous to radio and microwave antennas, except that they can absorb a specific range of wavelengths of light dependant on their geometry and size. Bowtie NanoAntennas consist of two triangular pieces of gold with their tips facing each other in the shape of a miniature bowtie. They take energy from the illuminating beam and compress it into the nanometre gap separating the two triangles. The result is a concentrated spot of light that is many times more intense than the incoming laser beam.

Fang and Toussaint's team fabricated 50 nm thick gold Bowtie NanoAntenna (BNA) composed of two equilateral triangles with 140 nm sides separated by a 20 nm gap and acquired the emission spectra when illuminated with 780 nm laser light using an Andor iDus DU420A-BU camera. When individual antennas were gathered into arrays with 500 nm centre-to-centre spacing, they found that the large local intensity enhancement of the single BNA was boosted by a factor of 1,000. More importantly, resonantly excited arrays exhibited uniform emission over a spectral region of more than 250 nm. The team believes that optimisation of the nanoantenna array periodicity may lead to even further efficient devices.

Recent studies have also suggested the possible development of nanoantenna-based solar energy collection devices with conversion efficiency up to 80 % - compared to 20% for traditional solar cells - as well as the use of nanoantennas arrays as nanoscale light sources to scan and image biological molecules or synthetic nano-objects such as carbon nanotube bundles.

Antoine Varagnat, Product Specialist at Andor, commented that "NanoAntennas have come under greater scrutiny over the last few years, due to their potential to provide nanoscale, cost-effective optical probing or high-efficiency collection devices. Andor's iDus CCD platform is ideally suited to the study of the key mechanisms at the origin of nanoantennas unique properties, namely nonlinear Second Harmonic Generation (SHG) and complex photoluminescence. iDus' high UV to Near-Infrared response, ultra low noise and high dynamic range allow the analysis of a wide range of intensities of these broadband phenomena, providing the accurate information essential to the fine-tuning and optimization of the amplification properties of these nanoantennas. And iDus "BU" UV-enhanced back-illuminated CCD was just the right choice for the team's 350 to 660 nm detection requirement."

Andor's modular Spectroscopy solutions encompass a wide range of high performance CCD, ICCD and EMCCD detectors, as well as a comprehensive range of Research-grade spectrograph platforms.

To learn more about the iDus camera series and their use in spectroscopy,  view website: www.andor.com/spectroscopy_solutions   

Andor Zyla high-speed cameras power novel four-lens light-sheet
microscope to deliver whole embryo images in under ten seconds

Understanding embryo development is still one of the most intriguing questions facing today's biologists. Light-sheet microscopy is rapidly gaining recognition for whole organism imaging, allowing cell growth, differentiation and morphogenesis to be studied in detail. However, compared to confocal microscopy, the amount of data generated by this new technique is approximately three thousand times greater and poses new storage and image post-processing challenges.

Rather than deploying ever more massive storage and computing power, a team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute and the Technical University in Dresden, Germany, has dramatically reduced the data rate 240-fold to create the first microscope that processes image data in real-time and provides the researcher with results rather than raw data. Using two high-speed Andor Zyla sCMOS cameras in a specially-designed four-lens selective plane illumination microscope (SPIM) with on-board image processing, the team delivered undistorted, high-resolution images of the entire endoderms of multiple zebrafish embryos in less than ten seconds.

Picture: Optical set-up of the specially-designed four-lens selective plane illumination microscope (SPIM) showing the dual Andor Zyla sCMOS cameras'

Picture: Jan Huisken, the Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute and team.

According to Jan Huisken, the Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute, "We exploited the spherical geometry of the embryos and the speed and sensitivity of the Zyla sCMOS camera to compute a radial maximum intensity projection of each individual embryo during image acquisition. An entire zebrafish embryo can now be instantaneously projected onto a 'world map' to visualize all endodermal cells and follow their fate. This reveals characteristic migration patterns and global tissue remodelling in the early endoderm and, by merging data from many samples, we have uncovered stereotypical patterns that are fundamental to embryo development."

"The raw data from the Zyla cameras were not saved at any point, which means that any 3D information not captured in the projection is lost. However, the radial projection delivers immediate, pre-processed data for analysis and enables experiments to be repeated very rapidly. This new technique will not eliminate the need for slow 3D imaging techniques in more complex shapes but it is a highly effective strategy to streamline further analysis and increase throughput in many applications."

Orla Hanrahan, Application Specialist at Andor, says "Image processing in real-time is a major advance for researchers who recognise that statistical, large-scale analysis is impossible when single experiments produce approx. 13Tb of data. Jan Huisken's novel microscope dramatically reduces the data collected so that many experiments can be performed, which is absolutely crucial to describe and understand the diversity seen in embryo development. At the same time, the data is projected in a convenient way to facilitate further analysis and this principle can also be used to address other questions in developmental biology.

"Two of our new Zyla sCMOS cameras are used in novel microscope, offering high-speed, high-sensitivity imaging performance in a compact, TE cooled design. Zyla is ideally suited to cutting-edge applications that push the boundaries of speed, offering sustained 100 frames per second performance."

To learn more about the iDus camera series and their use in spectroscopy,  view website: www.andor.com/spectroscopy_solutions 

Andor Luca-R camera sheds light on Oral Cancer:
Diffuse Reflectance Imaging validated for early non-
invasive detection
of malignant and pre-malignant tumours

A team of Indian cancer researchers led by Dr Narayanan Subhash has developed a simple, non-invasive spectral imaging system that holds out the possibility of rapid, inexpensive mass screening for oral cancers in dental and clinical settings. Even in the hands of non-clinical staff, it is capable of real-time discrimination of healthy oral tissue from pre-malignant and malignant tissues with accuracy comparable to the gold standard histopathology of a biopsy sample.

The core of their novel Diffuse Reflectance Imaging System (DRIS) is an Andor Luca-R EMCCD camera, which captures monochrome images of the patient's mouth at 545 and 575 nm. Andor's SOLIS software computes a ratio image (R545/R575) of the area under investigation and generates a Pseudo Colour Map (PCM) where blue designates healthy tissue, red denotes dysplastic/pre-malignant tissue and yellow identifies malignant tissue. This allows rapid visual differentiation of oral lesions and identification of regions with pre-malignant characteristics.

"Since mortality from oral cancer is particularly high, early detection, diagnosis and treatment is vital in increasing the survival rate of those with the disease," says Dr Subhash. "Our imaging method has the great advantage of non-invasively scanning entire lesions and their surrounding areas and automatically categorising these oral lesions into normal/clinically healthy, pre-malignant, and malignant tissue in real-time.

"It also delineates the boundaries of neoplastic changes and locates sites with the most malignant potential for biopsy, thereby avoiding unnecessary repeated biopsies and delay in diagnosis. What's more, imaging the entire region may also help the surgeons to identify the margins of the lesion that cannot be easily visualized by the naked eye during surgical interventions."

"The Luca-R EMCCD camera is well-equipped to handle this demanding role," says Orla Hanrahan of Andor. "Cost-effective yet powerful, it is built around a monochrome, megapixel frame transfer EMCCD sensor to deliver single photon detection sensitivity and unrestrained QE (65% max) in a TE cooled, USB 2.0 camera platform. Andor's exclusive RealGain™ EM gain control offers enhanced user-friendliness and quantitative reproducibility, setting a new precedent in day-to-day EMCCD use.

References: Manju M Stephen, Jayaraj L Jayanthi, Nisha G Unni, Philip E Kolady, Valappil T Beena, Panniyammakal Jeemon and Narayanan Subhash. "Diagnostic accuracy of diffuse reflectance imaging for early detection of pre-malignant and malignant changes in the oral cavity: a feasibility study" BMC Cancer 2013, 13:278.

Image: Diffuse reflectance (DR) imaging set-up and image processing. (a) Schematic of the diffuse reflectance imaging system (DRIS) and (b) photo of the oral cavity of a patient with verrucous growth in the left commissure, typical set of monochrome images recorded (c) at 545 and (d) 575 nm, (e) computed DR ratio (R545/R575) image and (f) pseudo colour mapped ratio image. Colour palette shows the range of median pixel intensity values for lesion discrimination.

View website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2407/13/278

About Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is a significant and growing killer worldwide. Incidence rates for men and women in the UK have risen by almost 80% since the mid-1970s, with major risk factors cited as heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) and the chewing of betel quid. This last factor is much more significant in the Indian sub-continent and South-East Asia and the work of the team in India has proven Diffuse Reflectance Imaging has the potential to be a valuable, non-invasive tool in the continuing fight against cancer. Furthermore, the multi-spectral DR imaging technique presented in their paper has the potential to be used as an adjunct to colposcopy in the screening of cervical pre-cancers and in the identification the most malignant site for biopsy.

Andor in profile
Andor is a world leader in Scientific Imaging, Spectroscopy Solutions and Microscopy Systems. Established in 1989 from Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Andor Technology now employs over 340 people in 16 offices worldwide, distributing its portfolio of over 70 products to 10,000 customers in 55 countries.

Andor's digital cameras, designed and manufactured using pioneering techniques developed in-house, allow scientists around the world to measure light down to a single photon and capture events occurring within 1 billionth of a second. This unique capability is helping them push back the boundaries of knowledge in fields as diverse as drug discovery, toxicology analysis, medical diagnosis, food quality testing and solar energy research.

For further information, view website: www.andor.com 

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