Experimental facilities & confocal microscope information

Located in Emerson Hall 347, 350, & 360 -- see photos of our lab

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Capabilities we have

We can do lots of cool things. Our facility is always upgrading (shopping), and our capabilities currently include:
  • Confocal microscopy:

  • Regular, brightfield microscopy:
    Magnifications from 1.6x to 160x. (The best resolution we can get is 0.2 microns.) See table below for more information on our lenses. We have both inverted and upright microscopes. We also have a rotation stage: we can rotate the sample in a horizontal plane while we're looking at it.

  • Differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy:
    This technique is useful for looking at thin samples, or samples with low contrast.

  • Fluorescence microscopy:
    Biologists love this, as they have all sorts of clever ways to make odd things fluoresce. Physicists (like us) like using boring old fluorescent particles. (See our links page for sources of these particles.)

  • Temperature control:
    We have a temperature control system for the microscope, which works from room temperature up to about 40 degrees C. We also have a water bath which can be used to control temperatures.

  • High speed camera:
    We have a Phantom V9.1 camera with 6 GB of memory. This is a 12-bit camera capable of 1632x1200 pixels at 1016 frames per second, and 96x8 pixels at 153,846 frames per second, as well as other ranges in between.

  • Langmuir trough:
    We have a Kibron Langmuir trough.

  • Pipette puller:
    We have a pipette puller and a microforge, suitable for making glass pipettes with tip sizes down to a few microns.

  • Digitizing video tapes:
    More than just microscopy, we also have a nice system for digitizing video tapes. We can also digitize video signals straight from the camera.

  • Online frame-grabbing:
    We can store video images directly onto hard disk at video rate without losing any images. The files are big (one minute of data fills a CD - 650 MB!) but we have CD and DVD burners too.

  • Analysis:
    We use IDL to analyze our images. We have several Linux computers to do this with.

  • Particle tracking:
    Our favorite analysis technique is tracking the motion of individual colloidal particles. Best of all, we can do this for several thousand particles simultaneously, in three dimensions.

  • Particle synthesis:
    We have started making fluorescent colloidal PMMA, but the last batch we made was back in 2011. We still have the capability, in theory.

  • Miscellaneous Gadgets:
    These include a refractometer, several viscometers, and several simple cameras. We also have a nice Hamamatsu video enhancement box which works well with video signals but which is a bit outdated now that most cameras go straight to the computer via a USB cable.

Microscope objectives that we have

Magnification/NAbest slit
image size
1.6x / 0.05 air-- -6 um3.4 mmA
5x / 0.15 air-- -3.3 um12 mmA
10x / 0.22 air10 um600 x 560 1.3 um1.3 um5.8 mm-
10x / 0.40 air10 um600 x 560 1.3 um0.7 um2.2 mm-
10x / 0.40 oil10 um600 x 560 1.3 um0.7 um0.36 mm-
20x / 0.40 air?300 x 280 0.65 um0.7 um1.9 - 3.2 mmB
20x / 0.70 multi (oil)10 um300 x 280 0.65 um0.4 um250 umC
40x / 0.55 air?? um150 x 140 0.327 um0.5 um1.9 - 3.3 mmB
40x / 1.25 oil10 um150 x 140 0.327 um0.23 um100 um-
63x / 0.70 air25 um95 x 89 0.207 um0.4 um1.8 mmD
63x / 1.20 water15 um95 x 89 0.207 um0.24 um220 umE
100x / 1.35 oil25 um60 x 56 0.117 um0.21 um90 um-
100x / 1.40 oil25 um60 x 56 0.117 um0.20 um90 umF


Some 3D confocal pictures:

Pictures by Piotr Habdas, showing colloidal particles which have formed a gel. Another image of the same sample is the background for this web page.