Traditional microscopes magnify the light (with the help of lenses) passing through a sample thereby giving an enhanced magnification. The focuses of these microscopes are limited to the diffraction of light that occurs greatly beyond a selected magnification. Super resolution microscopes (SRMs) are highly specialized and modified light microscopes that go beyond the diffraction limit of light thereby providing a high resolution image of the object under study. This is done either by enabling a reconstruction of an image under scan by nanometer scale scanning devices, or by true super resolution methods that are performed by utilizing super lens, improved axial resolution by 4Pi microscopy method, or by utilizing pre diffracted light i.e. near field optics.
Based on technology, super resolution microscopes can be majorly classified into true super resolution technique, deterministic functional resolution technique, stochastic function resolution technique, and combination resolution techniques. True super resolution techniques are further expanded into near field scanning optical microscopes, 4Pi microscopes, structured illumination microscopes and others. Deterministic techniques are further expanded into STED (Stimulation emission depletion) microscopy, GSD (Ground state depletion) microscopy, and SSIM (Saturated structured illumination) microscopy. Stochastic techniques are further segmented as SMLM (Single-molecule localization microscopy), SPDM (Spectral position distance microscopy) & SPDMphymod (physically modifiable fluorophores), SOFI (Super –resolution optical fluctuation imaging) and others (Stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy [STORM], photo activated localization microscopy [PALM] and fluorescence photo-activation localization microscopy [FPALM]).
Based on application, life sciences, geo-material research, material sciences, nanotechnology industry, and semiconductor manufacturing and research laboratories are some of the major application areas of super resolution microscopes. Among these major applications, life sciences form the largest segment of super resolution microscopes in terms of volume. However industries such as material sciences and nanotechnology form the largest segment in terms of value generated from super resolution microscopes in the world. The design and applicability of super resolution microscopes generated for these industries are highly developed for a particular use in their respective fields. Life sciences application segment can be further categorized into life science universities, biopharmaceutical companies, and forensic laboratories, to name a few.
Geographically, super resolution microscopes market is primarily concentrated in the North American and Asia Pacific region. The demand for super resolution microscopes in the Asia Pacific is expected to grow at a significant growth rate during the forecast period from 2014 to 2020. Australia, Japan, and China form the largest market in the Asia Pacific region. South Asia and South East Asia on the other hand show great potential in terms of life sciences and semi conductor applications; although at present a majority of the growing super resolution microscopy market consists of life science applications. Besides this a number of large scale industrial microscope manufacturers reside in the Asia Pacific region. The North American life science and semi conductors industry is among the largest in the world followed by European and Asia Pacific region. On the other hand European industries continue to remain a strong point in the global microscope manufacturing market mainly due to high quality of products services offered, presence of numerous quality manufacturers and their increased reliability. However, numerous restrictions for genome engineering; decreased funding for life science research; and shift of semi conductor manufacturing to the Asian countries have lead to slow growth of super resolution microscopes in the European and North American region. The super resolution microscope market in the Rest of the World (ROW) is expected to grow at a steady rate, albeit slower than major economies of the world.
Some of the well known manufacturers of super resolution microscopes in the world include: Carl Zeiss AG, GE LifeSciences, Nikon Corporation, Olympus Inc, FEI Company, JEOL Ltd, Leica Microsystems, Hitachi High Tech Corporation., Bruker Corporation, etc to name a few.
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