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'Super-resolution' microscope shows never-before seen cell activity

University of St Andrews-developed microscope will act as 'benchmark for advances in physics'

Edinburgh scientists create cell division short-cut

A 'super-resolution' microscope allowing scientists to see what they had previously only been able to imagine has been developed at the University of St Andrews.

The £500,000 device will allow for the investigation of biological processes at an unparalleled level of detail, such as how neural pathways are affected in Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor Kishan Dholakia of the School of Physics and Professor Frank Gunn-Moore of the School of Biology are leading the project.

Professor Gunn-Moore said: "Microscopes have changed a lot in recent years as it has been possible to develop techniques to beat the diffraction limit of light.

"This new microscope will allow us to look into biological processes that I have only ever dreamed of. With my own work in Alzheimer’s disease I hope to investigate how nerve cells talk to each other and, as such, how they make memories."

Professor Dholakia said: "We are entering a new era in optical imaging. St Andrews’ innovative advances in photonics are now gaining international recognition and the addition of this new imaging facility will complement our ongoing work and allow us new prospects and insights for biomedical analysis and act as a benchmark for advances in physics."

The development of the new microscope is the result of a research partnership between the University and Nikon, and comes from a long-standing collaboration between the University’s Schools of Physics and Astronomy, Biology and Medicine.

Robert Forster, Nikon UK general manager, said: "We are delighted the team at St Andrews asked us to help them with their challenges to visualise cellular structures and molecular activity at resolutions never before achieved by conventional light microscopy with our new Nikon N-SIM super resolution system.

"We have been working with Professor Dholakia and Professor Gunn-Moore for over ten years now to help the group further develop their Nikon systems through our Partners in Research scheme.

"Nikon Corporation is at the forefront of live cell imaging in the field of biological science with our technology and we are looking forward to helping the team at St Andrews expand their research further still in the field of biophysics."

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