The new system is being used in conjunction with Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) systems to detect and analyze tiny amounts of material.

Electro Scientific Industries president and CEO Edward Grady said: "The NWRimage is an outstanding example of the level of advanced engineering capability ESI has on tap in order to help solve some of our customers’ most difficult challenges.

"The sub-micron spatial resolution provided by the NWRimage is a major advance that ultimately could save lives by providing improved diagnostic capability for clinicians."

ESI’s new elemental imaging-specific laser ablation instrument is said to offer sub-micron spatial resolution and enhanced signal response for high throughput rates.

The system uses an advanced laser beam delivery system to yield sub-micron spatial resolution and integrates Diode Pumped Solid State laser source for long-term stability and reliability over the course of millions of laser shots.

The company has delivered initial NWRimage units to research institute Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) in Berlin, Germany. It will use the system for bio imaging of single cells and medical tissue samples.

BAM Dr Norbert Jakubowski said: "For this application we needed increased sensitivity and significantly shortened analysis time for extended thin sections of tissues or biopsy samples."