Press Release

16 June 2017

Manchester startup unveils world first in imaging technology

The commercial launch of a revolutionary new technology – (SMAL) Super Resolution Microsphere Amplified Lens – is the latest world leading innovation from Manchester’s scientific community. Led by Professor Lin Li, who demonstrated the basic principal of the technique in 2011, the LIG Nanowise team has successfully translated the concept to a market-ready product from their base at Manchester Science Park.

This level of detailed imaging is vital for researchers working at the forefront of drug discovery, oncology, and virology, with advanced materials such as graphene and the latest microchip technologies. This has traditionally required expensive equipment only found in Universities, large corporations or specialist centres. High demand for these facilities means turnaround for sample imaging can be slow – adding days or weeks to tight timescales – as well as being unreliable and costly.  By removing this accessibility barrier, NANOPSIS promises to be a game changer for R&D laboratories, universities and microelectronics quality control around the world.
The cutting-edge, patented, SMAL technology modifies standard white light microscopes to dramatically increase their resolution. This allows users to view the nanoscopic world as never before seen with standard optical microscopes.

Combining a built-in SMAL powered lens, with best-in-class software and hardware specifications; the new NANOPSIS branded imaging system generates full colour, large area scans of materials and live samples – resolving details down to 70 billionths of a metre (70 nanometres) in size, surpassing the theoretical limit of standard optical microscopy (200 nanometres).

“Researchers can use our microscope to validate samples and carry out routine work in their own laboratory without having to waste valuable time booking into an imaging centre.  This is because unlike other super-resolution technologies, which require a huge amount of expertise, NANOPSIS can be used by anyone with basic undergraduate scientific training – making it fast, convenient and highly cost effective.
“Equally important, is the fact that these reliable, repeatable imaging results are delivered at the frontline of research, rather than part of a disjointed process in an inaccessible centre. Our aim is to make super-resolution imaging more accessible to researchers across the globe,” explains Professor Lin Li, Chairman of LIG Nanowise, the team behind the innovation.

Crucially for biological and medical applications, the optical lens does not have to be in contact with the sample removes the risk of potential damage. Additional financial benefits of the revolutionary NANOPSIS system include improved safety, greater power efficiency and a significantly cheaper investment compared to other super-resolution microscopes currently available on the market.
Rowena Burns, Chief Executive of Manchester Science Partnerships, added: “It’s great to see another yet another home-grown company flourish in the MSP community and we’re delighted to help them launch their latest product.

“LIG Nanowise is a perfect example of how brilliant academic science can be combined with commercial ambition to push the boundaries of innovation, and benefit society in doing so.”

LIG Nanowise and Manchester Science Partnerships are holding a joint launch event with live demos of the SMAL powered NANOPSIS system on 29 June 2017 at MSP’s biomedical centre of excellence, Citylabs 1.0.

For further information and/or to book a place, please visit

Editor notes

About LIG Nanowise
We are a Manchester based start-up that has broken the theoretical limit of what we can see with light. Our patented technology was invented, designed and developed in the city’s science park. We have harnessed the power of non-contact microsphere technology to build the world’s first super-resolution widefield microscope. Our technique was invented and developed by the LIG Nanowise team, led by Professor Lin Li with the help of Dr Wei Guo. Our expertise in laser manufacturing and optics allowed us to pioneer our microsphere technology which will form a platform for our product pipeline. See and @nanopsis_smal

Alex Sheppard: Alex Sheppard is the Commercial Director of LIG Nanowise. He is responsible for driving growth and scaling up the business, while overseeing the R&D pipeline and product delivery. Background – Oxford University graduate, ex-management consultant.
Key contact for any queries: (07496812815)

PROFESSOR LIN LI: Professor Lin Li (Chairman and co-founder) invented SMON (submerged microsphere optical nanoscope) in 2013. He holds a chair of laser engineering and is the Director of the Laser Processing Research Centre at The University of Manchester. He received the Wolfson Research Merit Award from the Royal Society for his research on laser nano-fabrication and nano-imaging, and received the Researcher of the Year medal in Engineering and Physical Sciences at The University of Manchester in 2014. He was awarded the Sir Frank Whittle Medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2013 for outstanding achievements. He has over 560 publications in peer reviewed journals and conferences, and 47 patents in optical engineering. Lin co-founded LIG Nanowise in 2014 and serves as Chairman of the LIG Technologies Group.

DR WEI GUO: Wei Guo (Director and co-founder) is one of the inventors of the microsphere optical nanoscope and has experience in technology start-ups (Advanced Laser Technology). He holds the position of Experimental Officer in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace & Civil Engineering, at the University of Manchester.

About Manchester Science Partnerships
Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP) is a Manchester based public-private partnership and the UK’s leading science and technology park operator. MSP owns and operates 2m sq ft of office and laboratory space on its three main campuses – Manchester Science Park, Citylabs and Alderley Park.
We provide the right environments for innovation to flourish – supporting the growth of companies in the life sciences, digital technology and advanced engineering sectors, ranging in size from start-ups to European HQs and international centres of R&D excellence.
Our network of innovators, scientists, investors and entrepreneurs enables businesses and people to transform ideas into commercial reality.
MSP’s shareholders are Bruntwood Ltd, The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Manchester, Cheshire East and Salford City Councils.  @TweetsByMSP