Help us make King Snout a reality

We have received a number of inquiries about the AMS-AGY v2 “King Snout” objective.  We would love to make it generally available, but we need the help of the research community.

This objective has been stuck in a chicken-and-egg situation.  ASI needs some orders to feel confident proceeding with a production run.  (If we don’t sell very many we could end up with expensive glass sitting on the shelf and lose money, whereas the unit price is prohibitive for a tiny production run.)   However, if ASI is waffling then researchers aren’t inclined to send orders.

We came up with the following plan: ASI will proceed with a production run if we receive POs for at least four of the AMS-AGY v2 objectives by mid-January 2021, with expected delivery in April 2021.  We will offer a special price of $25k for any orders received by mid-January.  Afterwards, the expected price is $29.5k.  Please contact me at jon@asiimaging.com if you would like a formal quotation. (Clarification: a production run will be for 10+ objectives, so if a production run happens there will be some left for future orders). [Update 20-Jan-21: We have met the order threshold and a production run is in process.]

Both AMS-AGY objectives — v1 “Snouty” and v2 “King Snout” — make it easy to implement high-NA single-objective light-sheet (SOLS) microscopes using a variety of primary objective lenses.  High-NA SOLS combines the simple sample-mounting of traditional (single-objective) microscopes with the rapid and gentle imaging that light sheet provides, without compromising resolution as earlier approaches did.  The AMS-AGY objectives are used as the tertiary objective in high-NA SOLS.  They were invented by Calico employees Alfred Millett-Sikking and Andrew G. York, are manufactured by Special Optics, and are distributed by ASI.  The v1 objective has been commercially available for almost a year now with a price of $15k, and this push is to make the v2 become commercially available as well.


Relative sizes of v2 and v1 objectives. From Box 1 of preprint at https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.09.22.309229.

A larger field of view (FOV) is v2’s raison d’être.  The v1 has FOV of ∅150 μm (diffraction-limited) and ∅250 μm (usable).  The area of v2’s FOV is 9-fold larger at ∅450 μm (diffraction-limited) and ∅750 μm (usable).  Besides applications where simultaneously imaging different parts of a larger sample is required, v2 enables faster acquisitions of static samples by filling more of the camera at a time, e.g. reducing the number of tiles required.

The benefit of v2 depends on the application.  For imaging cells with high-magnification primary objective lenses (e.g. 100x/1.35 silicone), the v2 likely confers no benefit and v1 is more cost-effective.  For imaging larger samples with modest magnifications (e.g. 20x-40x primary objective), the v2 offers tremendously improved throughput.  Importantly, v2 is a strict upgrade; if you can afford the extra expense there is no technical reason to prefer the v1.

The potential of the AMS-AGY v2 objective is beautifully demonstrated in a recent preprint from Chan Zuckerberg Biohub by Bin Yang, Loïc Royer, and collaborators.  They used a single-objective light sheet microscope to monitor the development of a zebrafish tail.  Their home-built microscope had a 20x/1.0 water primary objective and the imaged volume was 1000 μm x 550 μm x 250 μm (they used stage scanning to achieve 1000 μm but the Y and Z dimensions are instantaneous).  They implemented several clever ideas, and central to their technical achievements was their use of a (prototype) AMS-AGY v2 objective to achieve an effective NA ≈ 1.0.  This is significantly higher NA (read better resolution) than ever previously demonstrated over such a large field of view with a single-objective light sheet microscope.

Some links for those interested in digging deeper are below.  Please let me know if you have questions and/or can help us make this objective a commercial reality by ordering one in the next few months.


From left to right: original AMS-AGY v1 objective (OD 23 mm), prototype AMS-AGY v2 objective, and a familiar object for scale. Photo courtesy Alfred Millett-Sikking.

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