Nikon releases AX and AX R confocal microscopes

High resolution 8K x 8K images that support biological phenomena research with 25 mm FOV are obtainable by intuitive operation

April 27, 2021

AX confocal microscope
(configured with the ECLIPSE Ti2-E inverted research microscope)

TOKYO - Nikon Corporation (Nikon) is pleased to announce the release of the next generation confocal microscope series, AX and AX R. This new confocal series features a completely re-designed scan head with 8K x 8K resolution*1, ultra-high speed resonant scanning, and world’s largest*2 25 mm field of view*3. Combined with a new user-friendly interface and advanced AI-based tools, the AX/AX R confocal series is designed to enable users to acquire data faster, with an unprecedented level of detail and ease.

  • *1Galvano scanner.
  • *2Among point scanners available on the market as of April 27, 2021, according to research conducted by Nikon.
  • *3The diameter of the observable image in a microscope.

Release Overview

Swipe horizontally to view full table.

Product Name AX confocal microscope
AX R confocal microscope
Release Date Late May 2021

Development Background

As biological research continues to trend toward systems level studies that range from molecules to whole cell populations, tissues, organoids, and even whole organisms, needs for microscopy have been similarly evolving. There is an increasing need to acquire data that is higher-resolution, both spatially and temporally; for a larger range of specimens and with greater throughput.
Nikon’s 10th generation confocal microscope system, the AX/AX R, features improved pixel density, sensitivity, speed, and the world’s largest field of view to meet these needs. A suite of AI-based tools assists users in acquisition, processing and analysis, while the streamlined user interface ensures ease of use. With its modular design, the AX/AX R confocal microscope system easily accommodates multi-modal experiments as well as future expansion to meet evolving research directions.

Main Features

1. Capture more data than ever before with 8K x 8K pixel density and a 25 mm field of view

The AX and AX R enables 8192 x 8192 pixel, high-resolution images to be obtained with the world’s largest field of view (25 mm). Now, ultrafine details can be easily captured even for large specimens. This feature is available for both inverted*4 and upright*5 microscope configurations, thereby supporting a wide range of research applications and fields.

In addition, with the AX R’s high-speed resonant scanner users can acquire up to 720 frames per second at 2048 x 16 pixels. High-speed resonant scanning not only enables dynamic events to be easily captured but also reduces the amount of time required to image large, fixed specimens.

  • *4ECLIPSE Ti2-E inverted research microscope.
  • *5ECLIPSE Ni-E motorized upright research microscope.
iDISCO optically cleared whole mouse bladder, acquired at 8192 x 8192 pixels using a 2X Plan Apo objective, effective pixel size 0.6 μm (over 10X the spatial resolution of a typical monochrome CMOS camera). Courtesy of Dr. Gerry Apodaca, Integrative Systems Biology, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh. In collaboration with Dr. Alan Watson at the Center for Biological Imaging, University of Pittsburgh.
Detailed, clear images can be captured in a large field of view using a galvano scanner.

2. Improved specimen viability for longer time-lapse imaging

The AX/AX R features detector units that are twice as sensitive as conventional models*6, with a ~30% reduction in dark current noise*7. With increased sensitivity and reduced noise, lower illumination power can be used for imaging even dim specimens, minimizing photobleaching and phototoxicity. Combined with high-speed resonant scanning which further decreases exposure time, specimen viability is greatly extended, enabling extreme, long-term time-lapse imaging.

  • *6In cases where multi-alkali PMT is selected.
  • *7Noise generated by the heat of the sensor itself during long exposures.
Time-lapse Z series maximum intensity projection images of a developing Drosophila embryo expressing PLC-PH::GFP (PIP2) acquired every 10 minutes for 12 hours with 2K x 1K pixels (with 25X silicone immersion objective), courtesy of Yang Hong Laboratory, Department of Cell Biology, University of Pittsburgh in collaboration with the Center for Biological Imaging.
With high-speed scanning, it is possible to minimize photobleaching of the specimen even with long-term imaging.

3. A simplified, AI-driven user experience

Nikon’s NIS-Elements C imaging software allows users to easily customize the layout and experiment workflow to suit their needs. The new tool simplifies confocal acquisition by automatically determining the optimal illumination and detection settings while removes shot noise from confocal images to enable clearer images with shorter exposure times. AI-based tools for post-acquisition image processing such as makes segmentation of complex structures more efficient and reliable.

Graphical programming tools for both acquisition and analysis provide further flexibility for the user. The optional JOBS module enables complex, non-linear experiments with multiple paths and dimensions to be created with ease, including conditional workflows where subsequent acquisition parameters are based on real-time analysis results.

Mouse muscle and neuromuscular junction imaged with a 25X silicone immersion objective using 2048 x 2048 pixel resonant scanning and rendered and segmented using exclusive new 3D tools from NIS-Elements.

The information is current as of the date of publication. It is subject to change without notice.