Chance's influence lives on

Jan. 1, 2011
As the 2010 Society for Neuroscience annual conference (November 13-17, San Diego, CA) was taking place, the field of bio-optics was losing one of its greatest pioneers.

As the 2010 Society for Neuroscience annual conference (November 13-17, San Diego, CA) was taking place, the field of bio-optics was losing one of its greatest pioneers. On November 16, Britton Chance passed away in Philadelphia, PA at age 97. A National Medal of Science honoree famous for his study of the basic theory of photon migration through tissues, Chance was a biophysicist. He researched how living organisms produce and manage energy, and used near-infrared optics to develop techniques and tools for disease detection. In February 2010, Chance married his colleague Shoko Nioka at the National Cheng Kung University (Taiwan), where both were serving as visiting professors (see SPIE has now established a new award for biomedical optics to honor him; the first Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award will be presented at SPIE Photonics West in 2012.

Because one of the methods Chance developed targeted assessment of cognitive brain function, in some way his spirit was with all those at the Neuroscience event. A theme among photonics instrumentation companies exhibiting there was easy access to high performance. Some of the most notable products in the exhibit hall were advanced cameras and microscopy systems.

Among these were a number of scientific CMOS (sCMOS) cameras, released recently by Cooke Corp. (the pco.edge with 5.5 megapixels, 100 fps and 22,000:1 dynamic range), Hamamatsu (the ORCA-Flash2.8 with 2.8 megapixels, 3.63 μm spatial resolution and 45 fps at full resolution) and Andor (an sCMOS camera). Among other advanced cameras on display were several high-sensitivity EMCCD devices: the ImagEM (Hamamatsu), the iXon X3 (Andor) and the Evolve 128 (Photometrics) with on-board intelligence. Based on the infinity-corrected PriorLux microscope, Prior Scientific's new entry-level PAM series imaging system for life sciences can be configured to include the OptiScan motorized X/Y scanning stage and motorized Z focus mechanism, plus a digital camera and imaging software.

Olympus previewed its fully automated BX63 motorized upright advanced microscope, which aims to let users personalize their own workspace and workflow.

Nikon presented a number of new offerings, including the C2 Spectral Confocal System with enhanced sensitivity and variable spectral resolution at 2.5, 5 or 10 nm; and the FN1 upright A1R MP multiphoton excitation and confocal fluorescence imaging system capable of 30 fps at 512 × 512 pixels to 420 fps.

TILL Photonics used Neuroscience to officially launch two high-end microscopy systems: The compact Two-Photon iMIC multiphoton system, and Andromeda iMIC, a spinning disk confocal unit for dynamic 3-D live-cell observation with minimal photo-toxicity, and modularity that allows combination with methods such as TIRF, scanning FRAP and photoactivation in one experiment.

Certainly, Chance would have applauded the progress represented by these products. His influence will live on in biophysics.

About the Author

Barbara Gefvert | Editor-in-Chief, BioOptics World (2008-2020)

Barbara G. Gefvert has been a science and technology editor and writer since 1987, and served as editor in chief on multiple publications, including Sensors magazine for nearly a decade.

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