Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Integrated Microscopy Products



June 2004

Integrated Microscopy Products

by Hank Russell

The realm of microscopy has greatly advanced. It wasn't that long ago when scientists would peer through the lens for hours at a time while a graduate student would change the filter wheel and adjust the focus until it was just right. And since the microscope and computer weren't hooked up together, the images had to be uploaded through the microscope, then resized, reshaped and deblurred using off-the-shelf (read: non-scientific) software.

Prior Scientific’s ProScan II stepper motor controller.

Over the years, while scientists were able to capture the required information at the region of interest, it also captured information that it didn't need: out-of-focus light in a particular plane. The unneeded information can now be eliminated from the image through deconvolution, a technique in which mathematical algorithms reassign the out-of-focus light back to its point of origin. The microscope, controlled by the software, focuses on the specimen and captures the image at every layer and at every fluorescent wavelength into a z stack.

With the different techniques ? FLIM, FRET, reverse FLIM, structured illumination, to name a few ? it is imperative that today's digital microscopy products be integrated. One of the most important parts of the system is the camera. Most digital cameras for microscopy have gone to a FireWire protocol for transferring the data from the camera to the CPU for the fastest data rate possible. Most of the time, the light levels encountered in microscopy, especially in fluorescence microscopy, are quite low, so the camera needs to be as noise-free as possible. As a result, most digital cameras used with fluorescence microscopy are cooled cameras.


From the Berlin , Germany-based Becker & Hickl GmbH come two PCI boards. The SPC -730 features up to 65,526 (256 x 256) decay curves in memory with a count rate of up to 3 MHz. Other features include measurement times down to 1 ms, multi-detector capability and fast object scanning/lifetime imaging modes. Applications include fluorescence kinetics, fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM), laser scanning microscopy, two-photon microscopy and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). INDICATE 201.

The SPC -830, also from Becker & Hickl , has an electrical time resolution down to 8 picoseconds FWHM (5 ps RMS) and an image resolution up to 4096x4096 pixels. It has a count rate up to 8 MHz (125 ns dead time), measurement times down to 1 ms, multi-detector capability, fast object scanning/lifetime imaging modes and BIFL mode for single molecule detection. Applications include fluorescence kinetics, FLIM, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, biomedical imaging, laser scanning microscopy, two-photon microscopy and FRET. INDICATE 202.

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