The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has approved funding of approximately €14.5 million for13 innovative experimental optical microscopes for research. This decision was made in Bonn by the Joint Committee of the largest research funding organisation and central self-governing organisation for science and the humanities in Germany. The funding follows a call for proposals launched in January 2018 as part of a major instrumentation initiative, when the DFG invited applications for highly developed but not yet widely established optical microscopy technologies. The call, entitled "Innovative, Experimental Optical Microscopes for Research", attracted considerable interest from universities, with a total of 50 proposals received.
Major instrumentation initiatives are part of the DFG's funding offer in the area of scientific infrastructure alongside the Core Facilities and New Instrumentation for Research programmes. Thematically focused major instrumentation initiatives are announced regularly in response to suggestions from the research community, with the aim of funding costly major instrumentation and systems with outstanding or innovative technology for use in research. The early provision of a technology enabled through a major instrumentation initiative should have a positive and tangible effect on the relevant fields of research.
The call for optical microscopy was directed at one of the most universally used technologies in research. As well as permitting a very precise, magnified view of structures that are not directly visible, it also allows the observation of dynamic processes and different material properties and the targeted manipulation of the examined objects, processes and organisms. The approved microscopes are very diverse instruments, including lattice light sheet microscopes, MINFLUX microscopes, multi-photon microscopes and special systems from the engineering sciences. In addition to the evaluation of the scientific performance of the microscopes, the consideration of the entire scientific working process, from planning to handling the collected data, played just as important a role as the originality and quality of the planned projects and their integration into an institutional concept for high-performance optical microscopy.
The 13 funded optical microscopes (in alphabetical order by applicant university):
- "Kerr Microscopy with Machine Learning Domain Detection for In-Situ Magnetic Materials Analysis" (Aalen University of Applied Sciences, lead responsibility: Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schneider)
"Lattice Light Sheet Microscope (LLSM)" (Charité Berlin - FU Berlin and HU Berlin, lead responsibility: Dr. Jan Schmoranzer)
"A Modular Dual 2-Photon Microscope for Multimodal Optogenetics, Synapse Biophysics and Beyond" (HU Berlin, lead responsibility: Prof. Dr. Andrew Plested)
"New Generation Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope for Multimodal Deep Tissue and Functional Imaging" (Technical University of Dresden, lead responsibility: Dr. Hella Hartmann)
"A Deconvolution Light-Sheet Microscope for Mesoscopic Tissue Imaging" (University of Duisburg-Essen, lead responsibility: Prof. Dr. Matthias Gunzer)
"Göttingen Minflux" (University of Göttingen, lead responsibility: Prof. Dr. Stefan Jakobs)
"Analysis of Highly Dynamic Sub-Cellular Mechanisms by Lattice Light Sheet Microscopy" (University of Hamburg, lead responsibility: Prof. Dr. Kay Grünewald)
"Minflux-Jena - Advancing Single-Molecule Detection in Cell-Biological Research" (University of Jena, lead responsibility: Prof. Dr. Christian Eggeling)
"Multi-Signal Far-Field Microscope" (University of Kassel, lead responsibility: Prof. Dr. Angelika Brückner-Foit)
"Intravital Nanoscopy for Investigating the Blood-Brain Barrier" (University of Lübeck, lead responsibility: Prof. Dr. Markus Schwaninger)
"Fast and Integrated Fluorescence Lifetime Microscopy" (LMU Munich, lead responsibility: Dr. Steffen Dietzel)
"Three-Dimensional Imaging of Cells and Tissues with Ultrahigh Spatiotemporal Resolution by Lattice Light Sheet Microscopy" (University of Osnabrück, lead responsibility: Prof. Dr. Jacob Piehler)
"Real-Time Nanoscopy" (Saarland University, lead responsibility: Prof. Dr. Peter Lipp)
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Programme contact at the DFG Head Office:
Dr. Michael Royeck, Scientific Instrumentation and Information Technology, Tel. +49 228 885-2976,
Detailed information on the major instrumentation initiative funding programme is available at: