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news28eueuJuly/August 2017 | MicroscopyandAnalysisFirst microsphere nanoscope launchedFrom nearly 60 submis-sions to its 2017 Paper Award, WITec has selected what it believes are the three best publications.Winning papers were written by researchers from Ireland, Portugal and Germany who had used WITec correlative confocal Raman microscopes to study transition metal dichalcogenides, textile fibers and cement.According to the company's jury, these papers show in remarkable detail how information on the chemical and structural composition of a material, obtained through this non-destructive technique, can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of a wide range of materials.Maria O'Brien from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, received the Gold Paper Award for her publication on mapping low-frequency Raman modes of four transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs): MoS2, MoSe2, WS2 and WSe2, as published in Scientific Reports.Together with Niall McEvoy, Damien Hanlon, Toby Hallam, Jonathan Coleman and Georg Duesberg, she used the Raman modes for in-plane and out-of-plane vibrations whose intensities depend on the thickness and the stacking order of the molecules' layers.Meanwhile, Helena Nogueira from the University of Aveiro, Portugal, won the Silver Paper Award for research published in Journal of Raman Spectroscopy. She and co-authors, Sara Fateixa, Manon Wilhelm and Tito Trindade, used three-dimensional Raman imaging and surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) to monitor the dyeing process of linen textile fibers with methylene blue.The Bronze Paper Award went to Jonas Higl from the University of Ulm, Germany, for a Raman study on hydrating of cementitious materials. Publishing in Cement and Concrete Research, with colleagues Marcus Köhler and Mika Lindén, he used confocal Raman microscopy to document which structures and molecules are formed during the complex process of hydrating C3S clinker.The annual awards recognize outstanding scientific work published the preceding year that employed a WITec device as part of its experimental setup.Evaluation criteria include the significance of the results for the scientific community and the originality of the techniques used.UK-based nanotechnology start-up, LIG Nanowise, has launched Nanopsis, de-scribed as the first widefield optical super resolution microscope that includes the most powerful objective lens in the world.The microsphere nanoscope contains SMAL, a super-resolution, microsphere, amplified lens, with a negative refractive index, pioneered by Professor Lin Li, Director of the Laser Processing Research Centre at the University of Manchester, and Chairman of LIG Nanowise.With a magnification of x400, the objective lens can be attached to standard white light microscopes to dramatically increase resolution, and generate super-resolution virtual images." Researchers can use our microscopes to validate samples and carry out routine work in their own laboratory without having to waste valuable time booking into an imaging centre. This is because unlike other super-resolution technologies, which require a huge amount of expertise, our Nanopsis nanoscopes can be used by anyone with basic undergraduate scientific training," Lin says.The Nanopsis imaging system works by using the microsphere to collect sub-wavelength light and convert it into a virtual super-resolution image.Custom software then stitches these images together, in real-time, to generate full colour, widefield scans of materials and life samples, resolving detail down to 70 nm. Acccording to Lin and colleagues, the super-resolution system rivals STED and STORM for biological imaging and SEM for material imaging – and costs x5 times less than the former, and 10x less than the latter." These reliable, repeatable imaging results are delivered at the frontline of research, rather than part of a disjointed process in an inaccessible centre," highlights Lin. " Our aim is to make super-resolution imaging more accessible to researchers across the globe."Lin and colleagues reckon the imaging system will accelerate research and development in a number of fields including drug discovery, cancer research and microelectronics production.WITec recognises outstanding Raman analysisLeft Gold winners, Maria O'Brien and Niall McEvoy with their workhorse, a WITec confocal Raman microscope.Below left Silver award winners: Helena Nogueira, right, with Sara Feitaxa, centre and Tito Trindade.Below Jonas Higl, centre, receives the 2017 Bronze Paper Award certificate from WITec marketing director Harald Fischer, left with Mika Lindén, right