Development of Real Volumetric Microscopy through Single Objective Light-Sheet Imaging System (SOLIS)

Highlights 2021

  • SOLIS is granted by RCN and project starts in July
  • Jon-Richard Sommernes joins the project as PhD student
  • Proof-of-concept prototype (version 0) completion
  • Patent submission of SOLIS principle on instant-volume imaging
  • SOLIS joins DLN
  • Construction of prototype (version 1) begins

The SOLIS project started in the third quarter of 2021 and aims at developing a completely new type of 3D microscope. In 2021, the focus was put on establishing the research infrastructure, after which simulation work and prototyping of the SOLIS microscope began.

The highlights in these three domains were (1) the start of PhD student Jon-Richard Sommernes in the project, (2) the publication of the first paper based on work within the project on “Quantification of the NA dependent change of shape in the image formation of a z-polarized fluorescent molecule using vectorial diffraction simulations”, and the submission of a patent on the SOLIS technique titled “Volumetric Imaging”.

In the coming year, once the SOLIS prototype is ready, we will be able to take full advantage of the Centre for Digital Life Norway to collaborate with other projects within the center using the new microscope and for our team members to get training through the center’s courses on important skills for the computational and analytical aspects of the project.

Project overview

Project lead: Florian Ströhl
Institution: UiT - The Arctic University of Norway
Funding: RCN, 8M NOK
Duration: 01.07.2021 - 30.06.2025


Quantification of the NA dependent change of shape in the image formation of a z-polarized fluorescent molecule using vectorial diffraction simulations
Florian Ströhl, Ezra Bruggeman, Christopher J. Rowlands,Deanna L. Wolfson,Balpreet S. Ahluwalia

Research group

Project lead: Florian Ströhl
Jon-Richard Sommernes (PhD student)

About the project

SOLIS is a technology development project that will produce microscopy solutions forunprecedented capabilities in the field of high-speed volumetric fluorescence imaging with sub-micrometre resolution.

In this project, a completely new type of optical microscope will be developed that combines the best aspects of traditional confocal with light-sheet microscopy. Confocal microscopy is one of the most successful imaging methods in biomedicine and suitable to visualise the structure of cells and tissues in 3D space. However, as in confocal microscopy a single point is raster-sampled through the volume of interest, its acquisition speed is very slow. Furthermore, only a fraction of the fluorescent light generated inside the sample is actually captured by the microscope’s photodetector, which limits this technique’s application to living samples, which tolerate only a limited amount of light exposure.

Light-sheet microscopy, on the other hand, excels in imaging speed and low light-dose, both of which are critical for studies of living samples. In light-sheet microscopy, a thin slice of the sample is illuminated at a time and the produced fluorescence is imaged by a second lens, which is positioned at a right angle to the light-sheet. Although this arrangement is very efficient in collecting light from the sample, the requirement for a second lens limits access to the imaging volume and thus excludes the use of standard sample preparation protocols.

The new microscope, dubbed SOLIS (single-objective light-sheet imaging system), keeps the resolution and ease of use of confocal microscopy, i.e. only a single objective lens near the sample is required, while increasing its gentleness akin to light-sheet microscopy. Additionally, thanks to its unique optical design, SOLIS manages to surpass the imaging speed of classical light-sheet microscopy as, in essence, it records fully sectioned volumes in an instant.

One application that will be enabled by the new system is the exploration of the repair mechanism of heart cells in 3D tissue models.

Read more about the project in this article (in Norwegian).