Light microscopy


Leica TCS SP5 confocal microscope

The importance of light microscopy as a tool for cell biological research has increased significantly in the last 25 years. This is to a large degree due to the commercialisation of confocal microscopy in the 1980s and the isolation and continuing development of GFP and other fluorescent proteins from the mid-90s onward. Crucially, these tools and subsequent developments in light microscopy have permitted the study of living samples in 3D at high resolution, and the unit’s light microscopes and associated hardware and software have increased in number and sophistication over the last 10 years to reflect an increasing interest in advanced live imaging modes.

The unit’s light microscopes are provided as a service to researchers, with the support staff maintaining the microscopes, training users, providing hands-on help and instruction in microscope techniques, and investigating potentially useful developments in microscope technology. Light microscopy staff members also contribute directly to research by assisting in experimental strategy and design, and by devising and carrying out procedures that require expert skills.

The light microscopy resources within the unit consist of six confocal microscopes (including a spinning disc confocal for live imaging); two time-lapse microscope systems with chambers for sample environmental control; and five research fluorescence microscopes. A full range of open-source and commercial image processing and analysis software is supported.

You can find details of the microscopes and software available in the building, together with information about how to book a training session or reserve a microscope at the LMCB Light Microscopy Wiki -

UCL Super-Resolution Facility (SuRF)

The LMCB is home to the UCL Super-Resolution Facility, funded by the MRC Next Generation Optical Microscopy initiative. The LMCB facility consists of a microscope development lab, headed up by Ricardo Henriques and a general SuRF facility consisting of two commercially acquired super-resolution microscopes - a Leica Microsystems gSTED and a Carl Zeiss Elyra PS.1. To access the facility you must submit a project via the Facility Access link on the SuRF Homepage below:

SuRF Homepage



Fluorescent stains for actin (green), mitochondria (red) and the nucleus (blue). Actin is a component of the cytoskeleton, which controls cell shape and motion; mitochondria are sites of energy generation in cells; the nucleus contains the cell’s DNA


Myelin (violet) produced by Schwann cells coats nerve cell axons in the peripheral nervous system


A ray traced 3D reconstruction of microtubules forming part of the cytoskeleton