BioSPM drives JPK into 'Technology Fast 50'

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Microscopy

Scanning probe microscope (SPM) maker, JPK Instruments has been
named as Germany's fastest growing nanotechnology company in
accounting firm Deloitte's 'Technology Fast 50'.

The company has developed a range of products that combine optical microscopy systems with atomic force microscopy (AFM) to enable 'bulk' optical information to be combined with detailed surface information and the ability to manipulate objects on the nanoscale. This combination has become increasingly useful to life science researchers biological materials, so much so, that the company has experienced a phenomenal 970 per cent compound growth rate in revenues over the last five years. Frank Pelzer, director at JPK, ascribes this growth to "the huge worldwide demand for innovative nano-biotechnology products that enable researchers to study complex biological systems." ​ The company has two main product lines, the NanoWizard II BioAFM and the BioMAT Workstation that combine light microscopy techniques with AFM's ability to study biological structures under physiological conditions. The BioMAT uses a portable shuttle stage that carries the sample between an upright optical microscope and an AFM system, providing a platform that enables detailed analysis of non-transparent samples such as DNA or protein chips, lipid bilayers, or patterned substrates used in cell adhesion studies. In contrast, the NanoWizard II BioAFM enables users to take simultaneous images of samples using both techniques at once by combining a cantilever tip-scanning AFM with an inverted microscope. This enables the user to optically identify the location of a cell before scanning that particular region using the AFM to either gain a high resolution image or investigate interaction forces between the sample and a functionalised probe tip. Pelzer explained that SPM has developed dramatically over the last two decades, from being a nice tool for physicists to play with, to being of use in characterising materials during metrology processes. "At the end of the 90's biologists started using SPM techniques and JPK developed a way to combine light microscopy, a tool that biologists already knew very well, with SPM to enable them to use the technique more easily,"​ said Pelzer. "We continue to grow our technology platform and have lots of new technologies in the pipeline."​ While Pelzer couldn't reveal anything about those new technologies he did mention that JPK were in the process of releasing new products and announcements would be made shortly. During the last year the company has expanded its production capacity at its Berlin headquarters to meet increasing sales demands as well as expanding its distribution network which now covers Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. Pelzer said that the company will continue to strengthen its sales and marketing team to leverage its products into its existing markets as well as looking to drive sales growth in some of those markets that are currently 'untapped'. "We are one of the most innovative SPM companies in the world, and there is no other company really looking after the bio-nanoscience market,"​ said Pelzer.

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