Biological Research Facilities

The Biological Research Facilities provide advanced microscopy technology to research labs.

Originally containing electron microscopes and photographic darkrooms, the facility now is focused on light microscopy using digital imaging techniques.

Confocal Laser-Scanning Microscopy

The Zeiss LSM 710 is a state of the art laser scanning confocal microscope that incorporates the latest advances in optics, lightpath efficiency, low noise scan electronics and detectors. This instrument has advanced imaging capabilities offering high sensitivity with superior signal to noise ratio, spectral analysis with a 34 channel detector and the ability to monitor dynamic changes of multiple fluorophores. Modules for advanced confocal applications such as Fluorescence Energy Transfer (FRET), colocalization analysis, and Recovery After Photobleaching (FRAP) are available. The multi-time plug in allows automated 3D (x,y,z) or 4 D (x,y,z,t) scans of preprogrammed locations and 3D image stiching.

Laser lines for excitation:

  • 405 nm diode laser (for DAPI, ALexa 350)
  • 458 nm, 488 nm, 514 nm multiline argon laser
  • 561 nm diode pumped solid state laser
  • 633 nm HeNe laser

Emission windows can be selected using two flanking photomultiplier channels and the LSM 710’s onpoard 34 channel photomultiplier array. The system can be operated in lambda mode with 34 spectral detectors that collect the entire wavelength range in one scan or in channel mode with up to 10 simultaneously active detection channels that can be set as needed.

Differential interferrence contrast images can be acquired simultaneously and DIC prisms are available for all objectives.

Objectives: Our LSM 710 is equipped with a 10X, 20X and 40X dry objectives as well as 40X and 63X oil immersion lenses. The facility also has 40X water/glycerin and 100X oil immersion lenses available if needed.

Microscope and Accessories: The scanhead is attached to a Zeiss Axio Observer Z1 inverted microscope with motorized, programmable x,y,z stage, joystick and touch panel docking control station. A definite focus attachment corrects for focus drifts during overnight time lapse experiments. The Biology Department LSM 710 work station is equipped with a temperature and atmosphere controlled culture chamber for the imaging of live mammalian cells.

For information about capabilities and use of this facility, contact the Department of Biological Sciences.

Wide-Field Transmitted and Epifluorescence microsopy. In addition to the LSM-710, the Imaging facility has two different microscope work stations for wide-field light microscopy. For standard wide-field light microscopy, there is Zeiss Axiovert II wide-field microscope equipped with brightfield, differential interference contrast and epi fluorescence. The Axiovert II is equipped with a motorized stage and a specimen holder that can accommodate slides, culture dishes or 96-well plates. This microscope has a trinocular viewing head that will accept the investigators still or video cameras.

Zeiss ApoTome Fluorescent Microscope (Axio Imager Z1 stand). The Zeiss Apotome attachment employs Structured Illumination Microscopy as an alternative method to reject out of focus emissions from fluorescent specimens in wide-field epifluorescence microscopy (Weigel et al, 2009, J. Biomed. Optics 14(1), 014022). The Biology Department’s Apotome is mounted on a Zeiss Axio Imager upright stand; it is a wide-field microscope with dark field and differential interference contrast optics. It is equipped with fluorescent filter cubes for DAPI, CFP, GFP, YFP, Texas Red and CY5 for epifluorescence. Images can be collected using the microscope’s Axiocam MRm CCD camera and the AxioVision software. The stage is not motorized, so it is not possible to acquire montage images automatically. The ApoTome structured-illumination attachment allows optical sectioning using the CCD camera. The AxioVision software allows automatic collection of multi-channel Z-stack images. The microscope has a complete set of standard dry and oil immersion objectives.

Digital Microscopy & Digital Imaging

The Biological Imaging Facility maintains excellent optics for a variety of imaging applications.

In addition to confocal imaging, two methods for digital capture are provided within the Facility:

  • The Zeiss LSM510 provides scanning lasers and a photomultiplier tube for capturing transmitted or DIC images on either inverted or upright microscopes;
  • High-Performance Quantitative CCD Camera and its associated computer provide high sensitivity monochrome imaging with 12-bit, low-noise output at 1360 x 1036 pixel resolution. Full resolution acquisition can occur at 5 fps. The camera is currently configured for control through one of three software packages:
    • Using its own driver for adjustment and simple frame grabs
    • Using SimplePCI from Compix (for instances where camera control requires more features including control of the microscope, time-lapse imaging, and other image processing functions)
    • Using ImageJ (for those familiar with the NIH/Scion Image software)

Throughout the Department, video imaging systems based on MetaMorph (Universal Imaging), Image (NIH/Scion) and Hamamatsu are used. Because of their integration with other experimental equipment, they are typically in individual research labs.

High quality imaging of Calcium-sensitive fluorescence (MetaFluor, Universal Imaging) is available on an Olympus inverted microscope.

Light Microscopy

The Biological Imaging Facility supports individual laboratories by providing excellent, high-end optics and capability.
The Facility has a Zeiss AxioPlan 2M Upright Microscope with 100W Halogen and 100W Mercury light sources and a Zeiss AxioVert 200M Inverted Microscope with 100W Halogen and 50W Mercury light sources. Fluorescence filter sets for most applications are available. Objectives include:

    •    10X Fluar (NA 0.5, WD 2.0mm)
    •    20X Plan ApoChromat (NA 0.75, WD 0.61)
    •    40X AchroPlan (water, NA 0.8, WD 3.61mm)
    •    40X C-ApoChromat (water with correction collar, NA 1.2, WD 0.29)
    •    63X PlanApochromat (oil, NA 1.4, WD 0.18)
    •    100X PlanNeofluar (oil, NA 1.3, WD 0.17)

Faculty in the Biology Department use a wide range of light microscopy techniques, including various methods of interference contrast, fluorescence, enhanced video microscopy and computer-assisted tracing.

Two-Photon Laser Microscopy

A custom-made two-photon laser scanning microscope is currently being built by Dr. Annalisa Scimemi for combined patch clamp electrophysiology and laser scanning microscopy image acquisition.

Interested parties may contact Dr. Scimemi for more information.

Usage Fees for the Facility

The costs of operating the Biological Imaging Facility are partially defrayed through the charging of fees for the use of its equipment. The charges for use differ based on the category of research user.

Categories of Research User

There are three categories of research user:

  • University Campus Users
  • Outside Academic or Not-For-Profit Users
  • Outside Commercial Users

"University Campus Users" includes all University at Albany campus users (Main, East, or CESTM campuses), irrespective of source of funding (i.e. through grants administered by the Research Foundation of the University at Albany or from state accounts). New inside users will receive 10 free hours to obtain pilot data for grants that will pay for subsequent usage fees. Users may apply in writing to the Confocal User Committee for additional free hours, if they can show that the hours are necessary to develop the proposal.

"Outside Academic or Not-For-Profit Users" includes researchers at Albany Medical College, the Wadsworth Research Laboratories, and other area colleges and universities. Faculty in the School of Public Health who have individual projects funded through the Research Foundation would be eligible for inside rates, but only for those projects. Other projects funded through HRI administered grants would be charged at Outside Academic or Not-For-Profit User rates.

"Outside Commercial Users" includes all non-UAlbany researchers and all researchers not meeting the "Outside Academic or Not-For-Profit Users" classification above.

Fee Schedule

  Approved Users Assisted Users Training Session Analysis Workstation
University Campus Users $25 per hour $50 per hour $50 per hour N/C
Outside Academic or Not-For-Profit Users $35 per hour $60 per hour $60 per hour $10 per hour
Outside Commercial Users $50 per hour $90 per hour $90 per hour $15 per hour
Donations for the Facility

The Facility cannot function without generous support from a variety of sources

These sources include:

Donations for operations or expansion of the Imaging Center can be made by contacting the Department of Biological Sciences.

Please contact:

Contact Information

Contact the Department Chair, Dr. Richard Cunningham with questions about the Facility's policies.