Microscopes

Light Microscopy Resources for the Caltech Community During FY 2016, the Biological Imaging Facility (BIF) had 126 users from 51 Caltech Laboratories across 4 divisions (BBE, CCE, EAS, GPS). The BIF has 8 microscopes available for Caltech scientists though outside users are welcome to utilize our instruments for their research with the approval of the BIF Director. The BIF has 5 confocal microscopes, 2 Light Sheet Fluorescence Microscopes (LSFM, also called selective/single plane illumination microscope, SPIM) and 1 high end wide field fluorescent microscope for deconvolution. Of the 5 confocal microscopes, 4 are laser scanning microscopes (LSMs) while the 5th uses a Yokogawa spinning disc to optically section samples. The two newest instruments are Light Sheet Fluorescence Microscopes that provide high speed optical sectioning. Besides providing instruments for advanced imaging applications, the microscopes in the BIF are also available for basic light microscopy applications for those laboratories on the Caltech campus without such resources. The ability to provide advanced fluorescence techniques as well as basic light microscopy resources makes the BIF uniquely positioned to serve a broad swathe of users both within and outside of Caltech. Here are brief summaries of each instrument:

  1. Zeiss LSM 710 (Rm B133A). Inverted microscope. Spectral Detector. Two non-descanned detectors (NDDs) for highest sensitivity. IncubatorA for live cell imaging. Two photon laser for deeper tissue imaging. Motorized X-Y stage for tiling.
  2. Zeiss LSM 880 with Fast Airyscan (Rm B133B). Upright microscope. Spectral Detector. Two non-descanned detectors (NDDs) for highest sensitivity. IncubatorA for live cell imaging. Two photon laser for deeper tissue imaging. Motorized X-Y stage for tiling. CLARITY optics. The Airyscan module allows for super-resolution microscopy making the LSM 880 the only instrument in the BIF with this capability.
  3. Perkin-Elmer Spinning Disc confocal (Rm B133D). Inverted microscope. High speed. IncubatorA for live cell imaging. Confocal only from 63 to 100 X magnifications.
  4. Leica DMI 6000 (Rm B133F). Wide-field fluorescence microscope, not confocal. Inverted microscope. High speed. IncubatorA for live cell imaging. Motorized X-Y stage for tiling.
  5. Zeiss LSM 510 META (Rm B133G). Inverted microscope. Spectral Detector. Two NDDs for higher sensitivityB. Two photon laser for deeper tissue imaging.
  6. Zeiss LSM 800 W/3 Channel GaAsP Detection (Rm B133H). Inverted microscope. IncubatorA for live cell imaging. Motorized X-Y stage for tiling. The 3 GaAsP detectors and the efficient light path make this one of the most sensitive microscopes in the BIF.
  7. Zeiss LightSheet Z.1 Dual Side Illumination System with Dual PCO Detection Modules - 6 Lasers (Rm B101C). Samples typically mounted in agar inside capillary. High speed. IncubatorA for live imaging.
  8. La Vision Biotec Ultramicroscope II Light Sheet Microscope (Rm B111H). Upright macroscope (Olympus MVX10) with special CLARITY modified optics. The SuperK EXTREME EXW-12 white light laser (WLL) from NKT Photonics allows for a broad range of excitation wavelengths.

A Incubator controls temperature and/or CO2. The LSM 800 is also capable of regulating O2 levels.
B NDDs not as effective as those on the 710 or 880

More details on each of these microscopes is provided below on each instrument's individual web page. Below we list 12 microscopes of which 4 are coming soon to the BIF. We welcome all user input for how to improve the BIF and suggestions for future instrumentation.

Using the microscopes Please go to the Personnel tab above to contact us for training, advice or help with your microscopy. Training on a microscope typically takes from 1 to 2 hours and is provided free of charge for Caltech users. Training involves going over the policies for using the BIF as well as how to operate the microscope and software used to acquire your data. For training we provide the sample. Once you are trained you are free to use the microscopes with as little or as much supervision as you desire. Reservations for using a microscope are made with our Calendar software (see Calendar Link above).

Learn more about microscopy Use of the microscopes in the BIF requires no prior experience in microscopy. We provide all the necessary training for you to operate the microscope you are interested in using. Obviously the more you know about microscopy the more you can get out of our instruments. The Director of the BIF, Dr. Andres Collazo, offers lecture and laboratory classes on Microscopy (Bi/BE 177 and 227, winter term, class links below) for students, postdocs and staff here at Caltech. The picture at the top is of the light sheet microscope built by the students in Bi 227 (2016) based on the OpenSPIM design.

Microscopy Web Sites Nikon's MicroscopyU
Olympus Microscopy Resource Center
Zeiss Microscopy Campus
Leica Microscopy Knowledge Portal
Molecular Expressions: Exploring the world of optics and microscopy
Hamamatsu education in digital imaging
Please send any other websites you feel should be included here to the webmaster, Dr. Andres Collazo.

Below we provide some lists of microscopes based on applications.

Fastest Zeiss Z.1 Light sheet
La Vision Biotec Ultramicroscope II Light Sheet
LSM 880 Fast Airyscan
Leica DMI 6000
Perkin-Elmer Spinning Disc

Most sensitive Zeiss LSM 800
Zeiss LSM 880
Zeiss LSM 710 two photon only with NDD
Zeiss LSM 510 two photon only with NDD

Least damaging to samples and fluorescence signal Zeiss Z.1 Light sheet
La Vision Biotec Ultramicroscope II Light Sheet
Leica DMI 6000
Zeiss LSM 800
Zeiss LSM 880
Perkin-Elmer Spinning Disc
Any two photon system

Spectral imaging Zeiss LSM 880
Zeiss LSM 710
Zeiss LSM 800
Zeiss LSM 510 META

Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) Zeiss LSM 880
Zeiss LSM 710
Zeiss LSM 800

Two Photon / Multiphoton / Non Linear Optics capable systems Zeiss LSM 880
Zeiss LSM 710
Zeiss LSM 510