Tucked away in the Chace Mill in Burlington, one small company is producing big innovation for the life science imaging community. 89 North, a subsidiary of Bellows Falls’ award-winning Chroma Technology Corp., took home a prestigious 2011 Prism Award from the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). The Prism Awards are given each year “to products that challenge conventional ideas, solve problems, and improve life through the generation and harnessing of light”.
The awards span several categories intended to isolate specific contributions in photonics across various technology areas and industry sectors. 89 North’s award, granted in the category of “Life Sciences and Biophotonics”, was presented for the Heliophor™—an innovative, high-intensity, and exceptionally stable light source system used for quantitative fluorescence imaging. According to SPIE, “The Heliophor provides a new alternative to arc lamps, metal halides, and LED light sources.”
The innovation cornerstone of the Heliophor is its pumped-phosphor architecture, which utilizes high power, solid-state light sources to generate specific emission spectra through excitation of conversion phosphors. The pumped-phosphor architecture, combined with the Heliophor’s sophisticated cooling and control designs, results in superior stability. Stability is critical for ensuring that output intensity is consistent across measurements, allowing for repeatable, truly quantitative fluorescence analysis.
The Heliophor offers exceptional performance for a wide variety of fluorescence techniques which focus on probing how cells operate as well as how they malfunction. Research applications include neurology and muscle physiology, disease mechanisms, and understanding universal biological pathways in model organisms such as yeast.
SPIE was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth.
Drawing upon its core competencies and penchant for innovation, 89 North is continuing its mission to become a world leader in the biophotonics industry, developing illumination systems to serve the needs and expand the capability of the life science research community. The Prism Award is one of many achievements expected from this small yet highly inventive company. “We created 89 North to encourage the kind of innovations that emerge when smart and creative people interact,” said Chroma President Paul Millman. “The Prism Award certifies the success of that interaction.”