Super-resolution localization microscopy earns additional patent

The United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Dr. Eric Betzig and Dr. Harald Hess, together with Carl Zeiss MicroImaging (Thornwood, NY), an additional patent for their invention of super-resolution localization microscopy. In 2007, Carl Zeiss received the exclusive rights to market this technology, known as photo-activated localization microscopy (PALM).

Together with the previously issued patents (U.S. 7,626,694, U.S. 7,828,695, U.S. 7,626,703 and U.S. 7,782,457), substantial systems and methods of super-resolution microscopy are now protected. These methods are based on the separation and localization of molecules to achieve resolution beyond the Abbe resolution limit.  This technology expands the ways in which classical dyes can be used for applications in super-resolution microscopy.

The latest patent—U.S. Patent 7,864,314, published January 4, 2011—expands the patent protection to systems and methods utilizing separation by photo-optical transformation of molecules between different energy states.  For example, only a few molecules can be activated from a dark state and then localized, or almost all molecules can be transformed into a dark state and the few remaining ones are localized.

Betzig and Hess are pleased that the patent office has recognized the breadth of their concept, including how different classes of optical labels can be used to achieve the condition for super-resolution imaging with localization microscopy, they said.

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Posted by Lee Mather

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