The emphasis of the imaging facility is two-fold: imaging chemical and structural dynamics in intact cells and tissue, and resolving cell architecture at high spatial resolution. We constantly endeavor to provide microscopes that exceed commonly available instruments in terms of sensitivity, speed, and resolution for the user’s application.
The increasing need for quantitative optical methods in biology often requires specialized instrumentation. The Imaging Core Facility was created with the idea of offering researchers at the University a set of instruments that can be tailored to their particular application as well as developing methods for quantitative, in-vivo, or super-resolution imaging.
The facility opened in March 2006. Currently, there are several key capabilities: High-Resolution Two-Color Two Photon Microscopy, Fast DSLM Light Sheet microscopy with two-sided excitation and two-sided detection, a Resonant Scanning STED with wavefront shaping, a Ring TIRF, and a Commercial Zeiss 880 LSM Confocal Microscope with Airy Scan Super-Resolution. The hardware and the control software for all three instruments are flexible enough to permit modifications for specific experiments. Researchers can book the instruments for extended periods of time (up to several weeks in a row if necessary).
In live cells and tissue imaging, a key technology is two photon laser scanning microscopy(TPLSM). It is intrinsically confocal and allowed for observation in highly-scattering samples at depths beyond visible laser scanning confocal microscopy. This powerful technology is available in the Imaging Facility, all two photons have 400micron piezo objective positioners for fast-z stack acquisitions in live samples. The software that drives the piezo objective positioners reads back the sensor voltage for accurate positioning.
Until recently, ultra-structural studies could only be performed using Electron Microscopy (EM). In the recent years, we have seen the development of imaging techniques that are able to break the diffraction barrier by more than an order of magnitude. Biological structures can now routinely be imaged with resolution in the tens of nanometers range, well beyond the Abbe diffraction limit. A clear advantage of optical microscopy over EM is the possibility to label several targets with different identifiable labels and perform live imaging with protein specificity. Our facility has developed a sophisticated laser-scanning STED microscope with adaptive optics for spatially addressable super-resolution in fixed samples approaching that of EM, in addition we have also developed a Ring TIRF with fast laser switching that can be used for PALM and STORM.
Other techniques of microscopy imaging and optical measurements have been implemented in the facility, and additional methods can be developed to meet individual research requirements.
The facility was built to offer researchers an imaging service where approaches difficult to implement in the context of a conventional facility can be developed. To achieve that end, our microscopes are designed for maximum flexibility and constructed from modular components for the best adaptation to specific experiments. Further, the microscopes can be booked for prolonged blocks of time (days to weeks) that are long enough to allow the microscope and peripheral equipment to be tailored to the particular measurement.