Yokogawa Develops CSU-SR Confocal Scanner Unit

Tokyo, Japan - June 10, 2016

Yokogawa Electric Corporation announces that it has completed development of the CSU-SR confocal scanner unit and will release this new product to the market in September. The CSU-SR can be used in combination with a conventional optical microscope to observe the physiological responses of organelles and other intracellular structures with super resolution, a Yokogawa first.

Yokogawa's CSU series confocal scanner units enable optical microscopes to obtain clear, high-speed images of live cells while minimizing damage to the cells. By utilizing the CSU-SR, the latest product in Yokogawa's CSU series, it is possible to achieve a resolution that exceeds the diffraction limit*1 of conventional optical microscopes. As such, it is ideal for a variety of applications in life-science research.

Yokogawa will be displaying a prototype of the new unit at the 68th Annual Meeting of the Japan Society for Cell Biology and the 11th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society for Chemical Biology, which will be jointly held at the Kyoto Terrsa Hall from June 15 to 17.

CSU-SR system (isometric drawing)
CSU-SR system (isometric drawing)

Development Background

Life-science researchers need to observe living tissues and cells in great detail. Although electron microscopes can take images with a much higher resolution than optical microscopes, they cannot be used to observe living cells because the observed objects must be kept in a vacuum. Recently, super-resolution technologies that enable optical microscopes to exceed the 200 nm diffraction limit have been developed. These include photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM), stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM), stimulated emission depletion (STED), and structured illumination microscopy (SIM), but all of these need special fluorescence reagents or custom designed luminous sources (lasers).

Yokogawa has developed the CSU-SR super-resolution confocal scanner unit to eliminate the need for such technologies with optical microscopes. This was achieved by utilizing both proprietary spinning disk confocal technology*2 and optical photon reassignment technology*3 (OPR) in its design.

Product Features

  1. Market-leading imaging speed, with super resolution
    The CSU-SR can attain scanning speeds of 200 frames per second (fps), making it faster than any other super-resolution microscopes. As such, it enables the observation of high-speed responses of live cells with super resolution. And like other models in the CSU series, the CSU-SR minimizes the damage to cells by limiting the intensity of the many laser beams used to simultaneously perform multiple scans of a sample. Thus, the CSU-SR is suitable for the long-term observation of live cells.
  2. No restrictions on reagents or light sources
    In life-science research, fluorescence microscopy, a technique involving the staining of a sample with a fluorescent material, is widely used. Unlike many super-resolution microscopes on the market today, there is no need with a confocal microscope system based on the CSU-SR for any custom designed light sources (laser) or special fluorescence reagents or preparation methods. Samples for the CSU-SR can be prepared using the same methods employed with conventional fluorescence microscopes.

*1 The diffraction limit for conventional optical microscopes is approximately 200 nm.

*2 This technology makes use of a rapidly rotating Nipkow disk (a disk with many pinholes). Laser beams pass through each of the pinholes to illuminate and perform multiple simultaneous scans of a sample, thus allowing confocal images to be obtained at a high speed.

*3 Although the resolution of a confocal microscope can be improved by a factor of up to 1.4 by minimizing the pinhole size, the pinhole must be wide enough to allow sufficient light to pass through. The portion of the light beam that passes through the outer area of the widened pinhole reduces the resolution, but it is possible to correct for this by adjusting the path of the beam. This is done optically in the CSU-SR by means of the OPR technology: a microlens affixed to the lower surface of a Nipkow disk corrects the light path. This method improves the resolution of a confocal microscope without minimizing the pinhole size.

Major Target Markets

Basic research for biology and medicine


Real-time observation of the physiological responses of microscopic organelles in live cells

About Confocal Scanners

A confocal microscope irradiates a laser onto a single spot of a fluorescence-stained sample and obtains fluorescence from that spot through a pinhole. By scanning the sample, the confocal microscope is able to construct a clear cross-sectional image without the need for slicing the sample. In addition, three-dimensional images can be built by stacking the images.

A Yokogawa confocal scanner can be mounted on a conventional optical microscope to create a confocal microscope system. With its proprietary spinning disk confocal technology, this user-friendly scanner is able to produce clear images at high speeds while minimizing damage to cells. These advantages are highly valued by specialists working in the life science research field, and thus Yokogawa's confocal scanners have become the de-facto standard for microscope systems used to observe live cells (live cell imaging).

Yokogawa's Approach to This Field

Yokogawa developed its spinning disk confocal scan technology by combining a Nipkow disk (pinhole array disk) with a microlens array disk, and released the 30 fps CSU10 confocal scanner unit in 1996. The current CSU-X1 and CSU-W1 are very popular in the market, with over 2,500 units already delivered.


About Yokogawa

Yokogawa's global network of 92 companies spans 59 countries. Founded in 1915, the US$3.7 billion company engages in cutting-edge research and innovation. Yokogawa is active in the industrial automation and control (IA), test and measurement, and aviation and other businesses segments. The IA segment plays a vital role in a wide range of industries including oil, chemicals, natural gas, power, iron and steel, pulp and paper, pharmaceuticals, and food. For more information about Yokogawa, please visit www.yokogawa.com.

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