We interviewed Peter Drent, co-founder and current sales and marketing manager at Confocal.nl. Peter has a long career in microscopy and he is very well recognized in the community. Peter told us that helping scientists to improve their imaging experience is the priority of the company and he gave us an interesting hint about the direction of the company and new product development. Read the full interview to find out.
Q: 2021 is an important year for Confocal.nl, in February, you celebrated your 5th company anniversary. In March, Confocal.nl launched a new product: the RCM2. We have also seen the team growing, two new people joined our team this year. So, it seems that COVID19 is not affecting Confocal.nl. Can you tell us how you are managing these unusual and turbulent times?
A: Like any other business, our business is affected by COVID19 as well. Almost all our customers work for the government, so – needless to say – COVID19 related policies are being followed strictly. We love visiting customers, going to conferences and performing demonstrations side by side with the scientists, but we have not been able to do so for more than a year.
However, we quickly adapted to the new situation by switching to digital tools, not only to function as a company, but also as a tool to talk to clients. We are boosting our social media, organizing webinars regularly, and recently started with the Walk-in Demo events. Therefore, we kept our business running and the team growing.
As a young company offering new technology, it also takes a while until the market embraces you and your technology. COVID19 delayed this a bit, but we see our level of acceptance and overall appreciation grow every day. On top of that, our current users value us very highly. We contact them every quarter to learn from them. We noticed that this extra support is appreciated very much!
“We quickly adapted to the new situation by switching to digital tools”
Q: The needs of microscopy users are constantly changing, and therefore the market has to adapt. How is RCM2 going to help scientists with this in mind?
A: Microscopy is indeed constantly changing as new technology is being developed. When I entered the world of microscopy, there were no lasers and computers. Imaging consisted exclusively of photography, and a Bolex movie camera was used for live cell imaging. Look at the situation of the present day: modern cameras with extremely high quantum efficiency have revolutionised live cell imaging. We are happy that we can use these cameras as a detector for our Re-scan Confocal Microscope (RCM), as they are 3 times more sensitive than the traditional detector in confocal microscopes, the photomultiplier tube.
We released the RCM2 via online sessions and it was a great success. People really appreciated the new possibilities of the digital scanners in combination with the new bigger optics. Now we can offer super-resolution in combination with a large field of view. The biggest gain is that we can start using the lower magnification lenses, like 40x 1.4 NA and still achieve the highest resolution (120 nm).
The beauty of the re-scanning technique is that, unlike STORM, SIM or STED, it creates super-resolution images using extremely low laser power. With RCM2, we can really fight phototoxicity and facilitate live cell imaging. Who would have thought, 5 or 10 years ago, that we would acquire super resolution confocal images with only 10 Nano watts of laser light!
“3 times more sensitive…
…Super-resolution & large field of view…
…Low laser power”
Q: It really sounds like a perfect system for live cell imaging, but I guess there is always room for improvement. Can you tell us something about what is coming in the near future? Are you planning to increase your portfolio?
A: Yes! This year we made a big improvement with developing the RCM2 and we are proud of its unique character. However, we know that microscopy applications are more and more demanding and we cannot stop here.
One dimension we could not tackle yet is the acquisition speed. With RCM2, we doubled the speed compared to RCM1, resulting in 2 frames per second for a 512 x 512 field of view. We are planning to enlarge the product portfolio, but I am afraid I cannot reveal all the details yet. I suggest you keep following us on social media, because with our next product we are going to improve the acquisition speed drastically.
“Keep following us…we are going to improve the acquisition speed drastically”