Take a closer look into Nanolive's patented technology

Tomography of a Neuron


Live Cell Holotomography

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

It allows determining how light propagates through the cell. By this means, one can measure the cell’s physical properties, i.e. the refractive index (RI). 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 & Holotomography

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.

History of Microscopy

Technical Comparison



 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 Below 200nm 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

Sequential Staining

Comparison with fluorescence

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 stains are possible on the same sample.

The Nanolive Technology

The Nanolive technology provides a measurement of the Refractive Index 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. Stain and re-stain the cell over and over again without damaging it.



Long sample preparation


Indirect measurement of cell’s properties

Expensive reagent

um resolution

2D results

< 5 min of work


Direct measurement of cell’s properties

Free digital staining

nm resolution

3D results

Marker-Free Imaging

Comparison with phase imaging

Traditional phase microscopy

2D refractive index map


 2D section of the 2D RI map

Example of Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC) during mitosis

Cell projection (outside cell topography)

Total Optical Cell Density (2.5D OCD)

Resolution: 400 – 1000 nm

High noise level

Tomographic Imaging

Physical cell’s height (3D RI distribution)

200 nm resolution

Low noise ratio

Comparison between ESCs (4 & 5) as observed with the two technologies

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