Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, its super-resolution light microscopy

The MECC in all its glory

Last week, the ‘supermen’ from Linkam braved the cold weather and treacherous conditions to pay homage to the company’s Dutch heritage with a visit to the beautiful city of Maastricht, in the Netherlands, for the 2013 Focus On Microscopy conference.

The city itself is one steeped in history – it has been inhabited since 550 BC and was in fact a Roman army camp until 388 AD. However, the city, which is located on either side of the River Maas, is most famous for the Maastricht Treaty and as the birthplace for the European Union and its single currency – The Euro (I can thank the mobile Wikipedia that is Vince Kamp for that fact).

The conference was held at the MECC centre on the outskirts of the city, and with a maximum capacity of 10,000 people, it was more than equipped for a conference of this scale. With all the major players across all aspects of microscopy present, it was a great opportunity for us to exhibit the CMS196 cryo microscopy stage and the new Linkam transparent warm plates designed for use in cell biology.

The show focused on talks and hands-on workshops for a variety of different techniques. Of these techniques, it seemed to be super-resolution microscopy (or nanoscopy) which caught the eye of most delegates. These super-resolution techniques are a form of light-microscopy that allow for the capture of images with a higher resolution than the diffraction limit. This means that the resolving power of existing techniques such as fluorescence light microscopy can be drastically increased and can be used to produce images all the way down to the nanometre scale. Since it emerged in 2008, this technique is quickly becoming a firm favourite with cell biologists worldwide.

The technique may not be not faster than the speed of light, or more powerful than a locomotive like Clark Kent’s super-alter ego, but if FOM2013 is anything to go by, I am sure you will be hearing a lot more about nanoscopy and its super-high resolution abilities.

By the end of the three day conference, I had learnt much about the history of Maastricht, a lot about the new upcoming techniques in light microscopy, and also where to get the best spare ribs in the Netherlands...Good luck if you can finish them!

By Ricky Patel