Inside the 3D Cell Explorer

Tomography of a Neuron


Living cell tomography

The Cell Explorer’s technology is unique worldwide and is based on a fundamental patent (US 8,937,722 B2 & EU WO 2011/121523).

It allows determining how light propagates through the cell, called the refractive index (RI). By this means, one can measure the cell’s physical properties. The result is quantitative cell tomography, in vitro without any invasion or sample preparation.

Learn more about our technology in our recent publication
Cotte Y. et al., Marker-free phase nanoscopy, Nature Photonics, 2013.


Self-adjusting & holographic tomography

The combination of holography and rotational scanning makes Nanolive a revolutionary technology.

Holography offers a unique means to measure cells in their native environment: Label-free, non-invasive, manipulation-free, and interference-free. Rotational scanning allows 3D reconstructions, noise robustness, and a resolution far beyond the accepted limit for light.

To achieve optimal results for every measurement, the optics of our technology are completely self-adjusting. It guarantees the best alignment conditions – whatever the environment is.


Holographic tomography, optical, light, microscope, living cell, imaging 3D

Technical Comparison

Standard traditional fluorescent microscopy

Traditional microscopy is limited by the need of chemical fluorescent molecules reporters in order to visualize the different cell components. The user has to decide prior to experiment which stains he may need to prepare the sample with. The typical time for this procedure is 1-72 hours and just a few stain are possible on the same sample.

The Nanolive technology

The Nanolive technology provides a measurement of the RI distribution within the cell. Therefore, the user can decide after the experiment which cell parts he/she wishes to ‘digitally stain’ in a limitless amount of colours – saving a lot of time and money on reagents.


Traditional microscopy


Our microscopy

Cell physiology

Allowing to measure with nanometric details

We believe Nanolive’s technology could create a new paradigm in optical microscopy of living cells. 

The Nanolive technology enables:

  • Non-invasively measuring the world of living cells with nanometric details
  • RI distribution within the cell (3D) and in time lapse (4D)
  • Comprehensive results in real time 

Since the cells are not manipulated in any way to introduce a label, it gives the user the possibility to measure the response of authentic cell’s physiological activity. The measurement of cellular processes with real-time kinetics enables multi-parameter analysis at single cell and sub-cellular scale.

Organelles of a living lymph node fibroblast.

Competition Table



 Standard Fluorescence

Super resolution Fluorescence Phase imaging  Electrical impedance SEM, AFM 
 Time  time_hour  time_hour time_days




Cost  Icons_50px_02-03 Icons_50px_02-03 Icons_50px_02-03 Icons_50px_02-02
Cell condition    Icons_50px_02-07 Icons_50px_02-07 Icons_50px_02-06
 Temporal sampling time_min  time_min time_min
Live Cell Imaging 

Icons_50px_03-07 Icons_50px_03-07 Icons_50px_03-07
Training-free  Icons_50px_03-07 Icons_50px_03-07 Icons_50px_03-03 Icons_50px_03-03 Icons_50px_03-07
Cellular health Icons_50px_02-07 Icons_50px_02-07 Icons_50px_02-06
 Lateral Resolution Down to 75nm Down to 250nm Down to 50nm 400 – 1000nm No Image   5-10nm
Image Dimensionality  Icons_50px_04-03 Icons_50px_03-06 Icons_50px_04-02
 Quantitative Icons_50px_03-07 Icons_50px_03-07 Icons_50px_03-03 Icons_50px_03-03
Comprehensive Icons_50px_04-04 Icons_50px_04-04 Icons_50px_04-04 Icons_50px_04-04
Price (euro) Icons_50px_02-03 Icons_50px_02-04 Icons_50px_02-04

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