In October 2019, a number of European imaging scientists met on the premises of Carl Zeiss Microscopy in Oberkochen (Germany) to discuss the possible applications of a novel technology that speeds up the acquisition of images from scanning electron microscopy by a factor of one hundred – opening the way to high resolution 3D imaging. Although initially developed to support the semiconductor industry, this technology has been rapidly adopted particularly by scientists studying brain function through the connections of neurons – so-called connectomics.

All present agreed that the new technology (implemented by Carl Zeiss in their multiSEM instruments) has huge potential, especially when combined with other microscopy techniques for complementary information about the sample. It was decided to attempt to build a new research infrastructure, devoted to large area and large volume imaging at nanometre resolution – NanoWorld Maps.