Light microscopy core facility

The light microscopy facility provides training and support to scientists in a wide-range of image acquisition and analysis techniques. Instruments in the Light Microscopy Core range from wide-field imaging systems to non-linear multi-photon and lifetime imaging systems for cell and intra-vital tissue studies. The facility is specialised in the following areas of expertise:

  • Advanced live-cell imaging using wide-field and spinning disc imaging systems
  • Laser scanning confocal microscopy
  • STED super-resolution microscopy
  • Non-linear imaging techniques such as multi-photon and second harmonic imaging
  • Qualitative fluorescence life-time imaging (TauSense)
  • Quantitative high content image acquisition and analysis
  • Light sheet microscopy of living and cleared samples

For any enquiries please email the Microscopy Core Manager:

andreas.bruckbauer at

The Light Microscopy Core Facility is able to work with researchers from outside the Institute, where capacity allows, on a fee-for-service basis. Whilst we are able to support a wide variety of research, we have a particular interest in supporting cancer-related projects.

Confocal microscopy

The facility has three Leica confocal laser-scanning systems for high-quality fluorescence imaging which have fast resonance scanning modes and spectral detection options. They allow large area scans and multiple time-point experiments with CO2 and temperature-controlled incubation chambers. The Leica SP8 has STED super-resolution capability, while the Stellaris 8 has an increased wavelength range and allows TauSense qualitative lifetime imaging.

Wide-field imaging systems

Time-lapse observation systems are available for studies of apoptosis and growth development (>24 hours). These microscopes have CCD or EMCCD cameras, high-quality DIC optic or phase contrast, definite focus, and multi-position stages. Solent or Tokai-hit portable chambers for CO2 humidity and temperature control are available.

Spinning disc system

Andor Dragonfly, fast 2D – 6D imaging. The Dragonfly offers you a sharp insight into the world of your specimen by employing a novel multi-point confocal system, optimized for fast, flexible and sensitive scanning. It extends your sample’s longevity and significantly speeds up data acquisition.

Multi-photon microscopy

Multi-photon imaging is the state-of-the-art technique for the observation of living mammalian cells and special physiological probes within tissues.  It is highly recommended for monitoring thick biopsies, as the depth penetration of IR is greater than for shorter visible wavelengths. The facility has a Leica Stellaris 8 DIVE microscope, equipped with a pulsed Coherent Chameleon Ultra II infra-red laser. This enables two-photon excited fluorescence and second harmonic imaging, e.g. of collagen.

High throughput image acquisition and analysis: Perkin Elmer Opera Phenix plus and Operetta CLS

The Opera and Operetta systems combine speed and sensitivity with the powerful and intuitive data analysis delivers everything you need from scanning a few slides at high-resolution with FISH of RNAi labels all the way to multi-well high-content drug and target analysis. What’s more, they are part of a comprehensive HCS workflow – everything from HCS systems and microplates to automation and informatics for every application. THe Harmony® high-content imaging and analysis software is easy-to-learn, easy-to-use software that empowers biologists to do their own analysis

  • Cell-based screening and phenotyping with user-friendly all-in-one image analysis pipeline
  • High content imaging of live cells and organoids
  • Multi-well plates and slides (1-4 slides or IBIDI/Labtek slides or multi-well plates)
  • RNAscope imaging at high-resolution in large tissue samples or cells
  • IDEAL for highly multiplexed immunofluorescence imaging up to 24 colours
  • Optimized for RNAscope probes with 8 LEDs for 8 colour imaging
  • Flow cytometry-type analysis on a slide with fast and high-resolution options
  • High precision Re-Scans of the same sample (e.g. re-stained) with alignment algorithms
  • Wide-field and CONFOCAL imaging options for 3D volume imaging

Light Sheet Microscopy

Our Zeiss Z.1 light sheet microscope allows fast and gentle imaging of live samples like drosophila embryos or cleared tissues like tumour samples. 

Costs and Charging

The institute recovers costs from the grants and projects used in the core facilities and this is reviewed regularly.  The hourly rates for the instruments and services within the core can be found here: