Startup CYCLE wins Innovators Award with laser system

The Hamburg-based startup CYCLE received the Innovation Award in the category Biophotonics & Medical Technology at the leading trade fair for photonics, The DESY startup won with the SOPRANO laser system, a femtosecond laser for three-photon microscopy.

The SORANO 1300nm and 1700nm delivers laser light simultaneously in a compact and comparatively inexpensive way and can thus look up to one millimeter deep into living tissue. These outstanding properties have now been distinguished. The most important innovations over the competition are:

1300nm and 1700nm laser light simultaneously.
Laser pulse repetition rates adjustable between 1 MHz and 30 MHz.
Significantly more cost-effective than other laser systems for three-photon microscopy on the market.
More compact than other systems on the market
Anyone who is a layperson in this field and would like to understand what makes the SOPRANO laser system so unique can take the following brief excursion into the basics of fluorescence microscopy. Electrons are then excited from the outside with a single photon. The elementary particle is thus raised to a higher energy level. After a few nanoseconds, it falls back and releases a photon again. This process is visible as a pixel in the microscope. However, the emission of photons in the tissue outside the observation focus reduces the image resolution. Femtosecond lasers can improve this state with two-photon excitation. The simultaneous recording of two less energetic photons (with longer wavelengths) brings the electron of the object to be examined to the same energy level. The emission of the photons is now limited to a small volume near the target focus because the probability of the simultaneous absorption of two photons is proportional to the square of the optical excitation intensity. The image resolution is better, thus the image becomes sharper. The imaging depth in the tissue is also improved by the longer excitation wavelength.

In three-photon microscopy, the electron is raised to the energy level with three even lower-energy photons. Here, the excitation is less optically attenuated by the extremely long-wave laser light, and more fluorescence is generated in thick tissues.

Soprano also delivers the wavelengths 1.3 µm and 1.7 µm simultaneously. This is especially true since in this area the light is minimally absorbed by water, the main component of tissue. This allows the laser to penetrate deeper into the tissue.