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SGItech is distributing Nanolive’s revolutionary and technological disruptive holo-tomographic microscope to look instantly inside living cells.

Based on refractive indexes differences within the cell, the 3D Cell Explorer is a non-invasive solution to look inside cells, as it avoids using any life modifying toxic stains as contrast agent.

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Nanolive SA, a start-up company founded in 2013 at the EPFL Innovation Park in Lausanne, Switzerland, has developed a revolutionary microscope which, for the very first time, allows the exploration of a living cell in 3D without damaging it.

While scientists may still obtain a finer resolution using an electron microscope, this approach cannot be used to examine cells which are alive. For a long time, it was believed to be impossible to look inside a living cell using light microscopes due to their physical limitations. 2014 Nobel Prize for chemistry was awarded to S. Hell, E. Betzing and W. Moerner, who did not believe these presumed limitations and made revolutionary discoveries in the field of fluorescent microscopy.

While their research was focused on the chemistry of single molecules and their pathways inside living cells, Nanolive focuses on the physical structure of the living cell itself.

Mouse reticular fibroblast imaged with the 3D Cell Explorer

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As a result, Nanolive’s technology can offer unperturbed and hitherto unperceived insights into the living cell: no longer a need for any special procedures or intensive and time-consuming preparation. As no chemistry or marker is used at all, observations are completely non-invasive to the cell and allow resolving the cell’s parts down to sizes of 70nm. This discovery has been published in Nature Photonics in January 2013.

Below, left, is shown the example of a fixed fibroblast chemically stained to identify membrane (green) and nucleus (blue). To the right is the same cell imaged with Nanolive’s 3D Cell Explorer, stained only digitally. In the first case, the preparation procedure killed the cell and took more than four hours. Using Nanolive’s technology, the same result took just five minutes and would have been possible on unstained, living cells.

Before Nanolive More than 4 hours of work
With Nanolive Approx 5 min of work

Before Nanolive More than 4 hours of work

With Nanolive Approx 5 minutes of work

“You really need to be able to look at living cells because life is animate — it’s what defines life,” Eric Betzig stated in a recent interview.

The 3D Cell Explorer caters to this desire by displaying the cell in a completely new way with a comprehensive representation of its morphology. Since the cell is the basis of all life on earth, this is a major milestone in the history of microscopy, which may change all the rules in the fields of education, biology, pharmaceutics and cosmetics in labs and industry.

Hell said that a close look can shed light on disease: “Any disease, in the end, can be boiled down to a malfunctioning of the cell,” he said. “And in order to understand what a disease actually means, you have to understand the cell and you have to understand the malfunction.”

The 3D Cell Explorer is based on an enabling technology that overcomes the limitations of light. Similar to a MRI/CT scan in hospitals for the human body, our product takes a complete tomographic image of the refractive index within the living cell. For the first time ever you can actually look inside the cell and discover its interior such as its nucleus and its organelles. Thanks to the 3D Cell Explorer, never again researchers will have to guess what happens inside a living cell. They will actually see and precisely measure the impact of stimuli and drugs on cells, thus enabling completely new fields of research and smarter products.

3D Cell Explorer

SGItech Solutions

The 3D Cell Explorer is a revolutionary tomographic microscope to look instantly inside living cells in 3D!

The 3D Cell Explorer uses disruptive technology to measure and record a 3D array of refractive index (RI) values inside living cells.

These values are then processed to obtain stunning colored 3D images where the cells’ constituents (each of them corresponding Size: approximately 38x45x17cm to specific RI values) are digitally stained to the colors chosen by the software user.

Using the same software, videos can easily be made, thus enabling the observation of the processes taking place in transforming cells.

Not using any chemical stain or any other invasive method makes it possible to observe the evolution of cells in their natural (physiological controlled) state, much longer than with any other actual method, and to visualize for instance how a cell or a group of cell react in presence of foreign elements such as viruses or a medical treatment.

The 3D Cell Explorer is a fantastic tool for scientists and researchers, pushing further the limits in the study and understanding of living cells. Potential biases observation due to contrast agent of any kind is something from the past. Study your cell as it is, without any compromise.

Some characteristics:


  • Push only one button to start the process.
  • Self-adjusting optics always guaranty the best imaging results.
  • The software is intuitive and the system easy to use letting the scientist concentrate on his research, not the equipment.


  • Label-free, no cell swelling, no photocytoxicity and no genetically modified cells.
  • No special sample preparation and no bleaching needed, and infinite live cell imaging.


  • Single cell morphology, kinetics, and dynamics (e.g., cell death, remodeling, migration, adhesion, or cellular tracking)
  • Cellular interactions and reactions (e.g., drugs, viruses, bacteria, or nanomaterials)
  • Stain-free histology and histopathology (e.g., tissues morphological analysis, 3D tissue characterization, or cancer diagnosis)
  • Stain-free cytopathology
  • Cell’s metrics


Resolution Δx,y = 200 nm; Δz = 500 nm

Field of view ~80 μm

Depth of field ~30 μm

Tomography frame rate 0.5 fps 3D image rate with full self-adjustment

Objective air with 60x magnification, low power laser

(λ=520nm, sample exposure 0.2mW/mm2)

Accessible sample stage 60 mm of free access to the sample stage for sample manipulation

STEVE Software:

STEVE is the 3D Cell Explorer’s software. The STEVE intuitive interface is used to control the microscope in real-time.

Nanolive-ibidi Gas Incubation System

A gas mixer that upgrades the Nanolive-ibidi Heating System to a complete stage top incubator for all live cell imaging applications with CO2, O2, and humidity control on the 3D Cell Explorer.

  • Fully compatible with the Nanolive 3D Cell Explorer
  • Fully compatible with the Nanolive-ibidi Heating System
  • Ideal for live cell imaging applications – full incubator conditions on the microscope
  • Stable gas incubation without evaporation (patent pending technology)
  • Suitable for various experimental conditions (e.g., pH or hypoxia)

Technical Features:

  • Precise and reliable gas incubation for O2 and CO2
  • Active and fast humidification – no evaporation
  • Uses pressurized air to create the gas flow – no vibrations
  • Optional air pressure generator available (for when pressurized air is not obtainable)
The Nanolive-ibidi Gas Incubation System provides both humid and CO2-rich air for stage-top incubators like theNanolive-ibidi Heating System. The gas mixture is continuously flushed through the stage top incubator, ensuring a maximum humidity and an optimal pH for CO2-buffered liquids.


  • Single cell morphology, kinetics,and dynamics (e.g., cell death,remodeling, migration, adhesion,or cellular tracking)
  • Cellular interactions and reactions (e.g., drugs, viruses, bacteria, or nanomaterials)
  • Stain-free histology and histopathology (e.g., tissues morphological analysis, 3D tissue characterization, or cancer diagnosis)
  • Stain-free cytopathology
  • Cell’s metrics

The 3D Cell Explorer granted with multiple prestigious awards…

Among the top best inventions 2015


The holo-tomographic technology proper of the 3D Cell Explorer allows to measure the quantitative refractive index (RI) of the cells’ organelles with nanometric precision and instantly. The technology was published in Nature Photonics in 2013, and the 3D Cell Explorer was already awarded with multiple prestigious awards (e.g. Top 10 Innovation of 2015 from The Scientist or R&D100).

The 3 D Cell explorer is being used in prestigious institutes such as the Harward Medical School for cancer research and Hopital Cochin in Paris for research concerning in-vitro fertilisation.

Other institutes and universities are using it in various fields.

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