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Nikon Instruments Launches Fully-Automated A1 Confocal Laser Microscope Series

Innovative Hardware and Software Enable Total System Integration with the Nikon Ti Inverted Microscope System to Provide Advanced System Flexibility

and Performance

MELVILLE, N.Y., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Nikon Instruments, Inc. ( today launched the A1 series of confocal laser point scanning systems, which seamlessly integrates with the new Ti-E research inverted microscope. The fully-automated confocal imaging system literally brings biological imaging to life, capturing high-quality confocal images of cells and molecular events at high speed and enhanced sensitivity. Ideal for facilities with a broad range of users, the A1 has been designed with ground breaking new optical and electronic technology innovations to provide unprecedented system flexibility.

Two models are available: the A1 and the A1R. The fully-automated A1 offers standard paired galvanometers with high resolution scanning at up to 4096 X 4096 pixels, with a standard speed of two frames per second (fps) for 512 x 512 pixels. The A1R model incorporates a unique hybrid scanner system of paired galvanometers coupled to a high speed resonant galvanometer. This supports advanced research methods using photo-activation fluorescence proteins and facilitates high-speed, live-cell work with a huge array of new imaging strategies. The total system offers new, ergonomic, user-friendly design and work flow utilizing Nikon's industry-leading NIS-Elements applications software, which has been enhanced for complete confocal image acquisition and analysis, providing unprecedented system flexibility.

A true advancement in confocal imaging, the A1 series offers many new and exclusive features for confocal image and data acquisition, including Nikon's exclusive DISP (Dual Integration Signal Processing) and a high-speed fiber- optic communication data transfer system. DISP increases sensitivity by using a pair of integrating digitizers to assure data is gathered over the full pixel period. The fiber-optic communication data transfer system can move data at a maximum of four giga bites per second - 40 times faster than the previous method. This allows transfer and recording of image data (512 x 512 pixel images) in five modes at more than 30 fps.

An exclusive low-angle incidence dichroic mirror realizes 30% increase of fluorescence efficiency. Additionally, brighter images are obtained with the industry's first continuously variable hexagonal pinhole, which replaces the standard four-sided aperture. With the hexagonal pinhole, maximum confocality is maintained while achieving higher brightness equivalent to that of an ideal circular pinhole.

"The A1R model defines a new level of scanning control with resonant and galvanometer scanners that can be used simultaneously and at significantly improved speeds," said Stan Schwartz, vice president of Nikon Instruments. "We've incorporated faster scanning speeds, unique photo-activation and simultaneous image detection, all with improved sensitivity and reduced photo- toxicity effects, to achieve a high-performance live-cell confocal imaging system with a full range of application modalities and user defined work flow. When used with the Ti series of inverted microscopes, the A1 offers a complete confocal system that is an ideal platform for a variety of high-level techniques in principal investigator labs and core imaging facilities alike."

The A1 series is available with or without a resonant scanner, depending on imaging needs. The A1R includes both galvanometer scanners, which acquire up to four fps, and a resonant scanner. The resonant scanner acquires 30 fps at 512 x 512 pixel resolution and as many as 230 fps in the 64 line band scan mode. It also allows for either simultaneous and sequential photo-stimulation or bleaching or image acquisition revealing high temporal and spatial resolution of intermolecular interaction. This is done using the standard galvanometer scanner for stimulation, while the high-speed resonant scanner captures the image. Ultra stable clock sync pulses are generated optically, offering images that are completely even in intensity without flicker or distortion, even at the highest speed. Analysis software for FRAP and FRET is also provided. The A1 system without the resonant scanner provides all the unique features of the A1R minus the high speed resonant scanner.

Among the A1's advanced features are three beam introduction ports, which allow the connection of two fiber coupled laser sets and one air space coupled laser. The AOTF modulated 4-laser unit, which provides as many as seven laser lines (choices from 405nm, 440nm, 457nm, 488nm, 514nm, 543nm, 562nm and 638nm), the AOM modulated 3-laser unit, which provides an additional three laser lines, and an optional picosecond or faster pulsed laser are just three of the laser options available. Laser power for two of the input ports are continuously monitored and reported to the control system ensuring excellent quantitative and uniform imaging performance.

There are also three output ports to allow optical fiber connection to as many as three separate detector units. Specifically, the A1 features a new optional spectral detector for concurrent acquisition of up to 32 channels. Three spectral resolutions or channel widths are available (2.5nm, 6nm and 10nm), simultaneously covering up to 320nm of spectrum at each frame scan. Simultaneous excitation using up to four laser lines can be achieved with frames speeds of two fps at 512 x 512 pixel resolution, or as fast as 16 fps at 512 x 64 pixels. Nikon's original linear unmixing algorithms and high- speed data processing enable fast and accurate unmixing during image acquisition in less than a second. When coupled with high-speed spectral imaging, an image with no crosstalk or auto-fluorescence can be created in real time. The spectral detector also supports a "V" filter acquisition mode that allows up to four freely-adjustable detector channels. It allows acquisition of the desired spectral range, providing flexibility to handle any new fluorescence probes. A new fully-automated 4-PMT confocal fluorescence detector is also featured, enabling simple onsite installation of emission filter and mirror sets.

Additionally, the A1 will offer VAAS Detection as an upgrade option beginning in October 2008. This exclusive technology for Virtual Adaptable Apertures will allow increased control over the attainment of experimental data. It also can provide for the post acquisition recovery of photon data normally lost to physical pinhole size during the course of the experiment. This unique detector system will allow for virtually adjusting the confocality and sensitivity, collecting more photons during the initial image acquisition.

About Nikon Instruments Inc.

Nikon Instruments Inc. is a global leader in the development of advanced optical technology. Its product line includes standard and advanced microscopy equipment, digital imaging, precision measuring and semiconductor wafer- handling equipment. Nikon is committed to providing technologically advanced instruments that offer optimal versatility, performance and productivity. Nikon combines state-of-the-art capabilities with innovative designs to produce optically superior, ergonomically friendly products for cutting-edge scientific research, medical and industrial applications. For more information visit the Nikon website at Product- related inquiries can be directed to Nikon Instruments at 800-52-NIKON.

SOURCE Nikon Instruments, Inc.
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