Commercialisation of a Super-Resolution multiphoton microscope

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Cell Physiology and Pharmacology


We have developed a new microscope that produces images with a resolution that is better than previously thought theoretically possible. The microscope uses an infrared laser for deep tissue imaging and combines structured illumination with software based localisation methods to resolve points of interest with nanometer resolution. We commissioned a market report and patent landscape survey to help develop a commercial strategy and confirm that we have freedom to operate. In response to comments from industry experts and end users, we will improve the depth of penetration to allow super-resolved imaging at depths of up to 0.5 mm. We will also develop a method for simultaneous measurement from two fluorescent markers and demonstrate the utility of these improvements using in vivo and in vitro and use the data to generate high impact papers. We will also protect the intellectual property underpinning our invention and speak with industry experts with a view to licencing our technology.
Description We have met the key objectives of this award which were to demonstrate improvements in technology. In particular, we have shown that with our patented technology, we can image faster, deeper and with greater spatial resolution than alternative technology and we have used these findings to initiate discussions with industry with a view to licensing the technology
Exploitation Route We hope that ongoing discussions with potential commercial partners will prove fruitful. This grant fed into an ALERT 14 award which has allowed us to build a facility for use within the university. This is now almost complete and we hope that the technology will feed into research within Leicester, the Midlands and beyond in the next few years
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)



including Industrial Biotechology

Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology


Description The purpose of this follow on grant was to commercialize technology developed with previous awards. We have developed a portfolio of research examples to develop a demonstration model. During the grant, we have applied for and been granted, in some cases, patents for the technology. This process has limited our ability to speak with companies because most companies will not speak with us until our IP is protected. We now have several companies asking to see our technology and we remain optimistic that this will lead to licensing opportunities.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

Description ALERT 14
Amount £638,019 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/M012034/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2014 
End 11/2015
Title SuperRAMP 
Description We have developed a technique called SuperRAMP or SuperRAM which involves a new method of scanning light over samples, and subsequent image processing, to produce superresolution images. The method can be used with visible or infra-red light and is applicable to live samples. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact We were able to obtain funding to develop a superresolution facility to offer this methodology to the University and wider academic sector. The hardware and software necessary to implement these techniques have been protected by fling patents in Europe, Japan and the USA. Preliminary publications describing the software methods have been published and we are shortly due to publish the work that will describe the characteristics and utility of the method in live cells. 
Description The present invention relates to a method of processing images captured following structured illumination of a sample, the method comprising the steps of: identifying emission spots within each captured image; verifying the emission spots; and reconstructing an enhanced image of the sample from the emission spots. The method may comprise identifying only in focus emission spots. By identifying and processing only in focus spots, whether or not they are centred on expected illumination positions, improvements in resolution can be achieved compared to known SIM methods. In particular, by suitable selection of in focus spots, significant improvements in lateral and axial resolution can be achieved. 
IP Reference US2016252718 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2016
Licensed No
Impact This development builds on work from previous grants. As a result of this invention, we have been able to apply succesful for funding from the BBSRC to set up a facility for the use of this new technology within and beyond the University. This facility is now functional and we are building a group of collaborators who are now making use of this and related technolgoy for their research projects.
Description This invention relates to a method of processing images captured following structured illumination of a sample through which significant improvements in lateral and axial resolution can be achieved. 
IP Reference EP3060953 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2016
Licensed No
Impact This method forms the basis for the development of a new form of microscopy called SuperRAMP which is a super-resolution form of multiphoton microscopy. It is currently in use at Leicester University as part of a Super-resolution facility
Title Improvements in or relating to structured illumination microscopy utilising acousto-optic deflectors. 
Description A new method to improve on the transmission properties of acousto-optic devices for their use in microscopy 
IP Reference GB1406150.1 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2014
Licensed No
Impact This work has contributed to the acquisition of further funding via the BBSRC responsive mode, follow on funding and ALERT 14 programs
Title NiMan 
Description A suite of software that allows time resolved analysis of large stacks of images but also including a novel method for creating and analysing super-resolution images from structured illumination microscopy 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The software has been developed over many years and is used by members of my laboratory and collaborators to analyse data collected from the various research projects we have undertaken over the last 10 years 
Title NiMaq 
Description A suite of software that allows the control of imaging equipment including cameras, light sources, digital RF synthesisers, microscopes and scanning devices 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact This software has been developed over many years and is the basis for most of the technical developments my lab has made over many years. We hope that it will either be released as an open source tool or form part of a spin out product that we can licence or sell 
Title RF Synthesiser External Operation (XOP) for Igor Pro 
Description A driver that allows control of a radiofrequency digital synthesiser for control of acousto-optic devices 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact This is central to the development of our Super-resolution microscopes that use acousto-optics and forms the basis behind any future commercial products based upon this technolgy. It is central to the operation of our super-resolution facility that uses technology invented through BBSRC funding and which is currently used by members of our university 
Title SuperResolution Imaging Faciltiy 
Description A suite of microsccope that allow super-resolution imaging using tools and technologies developed in my laboratory with BBSRC support 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact We have developed a facility for members of our University, It is the first opportunity for scientists to have access to super-resolution microscopy. The technology was initially developed with BBSRC support leading to ALERT 14 funding to equip and setup the faclity. It is now starting to be used by members of the College 
Title Visible wavelength acousto-optical based super-resolution microscope 
Description A novel super-resolution microscope that produced improvements in lateral and axial resolution through a combination of patterned illumination and mathematical processing of images. 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Ongoing 
Description Discussion with Microscopy Companies regarding Licensing technology 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discussion with Zeiss regarding our technology and whether they would be interested in forming a licencing arrangement
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015