Nikon Instruments is a division of the Nikon Corporation, which is headquartered in Tokyo. Its US operations are based in Melville, New York and its European operations in Amstelveen, Netherlands. Nikon Instruments is a market leader in optical instrumentation and the only microscope company to manufacture its own glass.
The company, Nippon Kogaku KK ('Japan Optics'), was formed in 1917 with the merger of three Japanese optical manufacturers to produce precision optical glass. In 1925 the brand expanded to produce the first microscope with a revolving nosepiece and interchangeable objectives – the Joico microscope. Over the next few decades the microscopy division progressed considerably with the introduction of groundbreaking polarising and stereomicroscopes in addition to metrology products for measuring and inspection.
Nikon launched the Optiphot and Labophot microscopes in the 1970s and established the CF Optical system. The 1980s saw more than 80 new products, including the inverted Diaphot microscope, which was at the forefront of IVF techniques. The introduction of the Eclipse range of infinity optics in the 1990s was a radical departure from traditional microscope design. This in-house expertise in optical technologies has been instrumental in differentiating Nikon from its competitors. CFI60 optics offer advantages for both industrial and biological applications as lenses generally have higher numerical apertures (N.A.s) and longer working distances than comparable lenses and provide increased resolution, greater light-gathering capability and high performance in confocal imaging. The infinity optical system also has the benefit that the distance between the objective and the eyepiece tube is not fixed, allowing a variety of imaging modules to be inserted into the light path without any compromise in optical quality. This has allowed microscopes to be transformed into versatile imaging workstations that provide users with instant access to several imaging methods. Using a Nikon Diaphot microscope, in 1996, Dolly the sheep was the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell. Nikon's photographic capability has extended to a series of digital camera systems optimized for microscopy-based applications enabling the digital transfer of images.
Alongside developments in inter-disciplinary, clinical and confocal microscope solutions, Nikon’s digital imaging technologies and software solutions support all microscopy and imaging functions, image management and analysis. The Eclipse Ti series of inverted microscopes, for example, allows the simultaneous mounting of confocal, TIRF module and multiple stacked epi-fluorescence filter turrets to make this microscope the ideal live cell imaging platform. Long term timelapse imaging of living cells is becoming an increasingly important technique – for which Nikon has developed the very latest in Cellogy and Cell Care – the BioStation series.
Nikon’s new N-SIM microscopy system can produce two times conventional resolution by combining Structured Illumination Microscopy technology licensed from UCSF based on Nikon’s Eclipse Ti research inverted microscope. N-STORM is a new super-resolution microscope system that combines “Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy” technology (licensed from Harvard University) and Nikon’s Eclipse Ti, providing enhanced resolution that is 10 times that of conventional optical microscopes.