3D Microscope Stabilization System

Real-time drift-free super-resolution imaging at variable depth


  • Enhanced stability: 1 nm (x,y), 2.5 nm (z).
  • High stability for in-depth imaging (10 μm) independent of fiducial markers.
  • Long-term imaging with no artifacts originating from offline drift correction.
  • Compatible with super-resolution microscopes.

Technology Details

Advances in optical microscopy techniques have enabled three-dimensional imaging with nanometer resolution. To achieve highest spatial resolution using super resolution microscopy, it is imperative that the sample remains stable during image acquisition. This includes eliminating any thermal, vibrational or mechanical instabilities; however, no commercial systems are capable of completely resolving this issue.

Researchers at UBC have developed a novel approach to the issue of super-resolution stabilization utilizing two independent and variable focal planes. The UBC 3D microscope stabilization system enables real-time 3D stabilization along the x-, y- and z-axis with a lateral drift stabilization (x,y) to 1 nm (rms) and axial drift stabilization (z) to 2.5 nm (rms). Figure 1 shows a comparison of two super-resolution images without (Figure 1(a)) and with (Figure 1(b)) the novel UBC 3D stabilization system.

Figure 1. Images of cells:

(a) without drift correction and
(b) with 3D Stabilization System

Decoupling the focal planes of the sample and fiducial markers has allowed for tracking of the fiducial markers independent of the depth at which the sample is imaged.  Thereby enabling the acquisition of a high resolution, drift free images at sample depths up to 10 microns.

Enhanced stabilization in three-dimensions and enabled high resolution deep image acquisition are significant advantages of the UBC 3D microscope stabilization system. 

An independent market assessment (funded by NSERC Idea to Innovation Grant 2015) pointed to a substantial need and large potential impact of the UBC 3D microscope stabilization system, and the lack of existing solutions in the field. Interviews with industry stakeholders revealed a lack of satisfaction with existing image stabilization solutions and a definite interest in the UBC 3D microscope stabilization system, a “game changer” in the field of super-resolution miscroscopy.