An Overview of Spinning Disk Confocal Microscopy

Posted by Amos Fred on November 19th, 2019

If you are a keen follower of the biomedical research world, then you have probably heard of Spinning Disk Confocal Microscopy, and you may be wondering: What is it? And why is everyone talking about it? Well, in this piece, we will tell you everything there is to know about Spinning Disk Confocal Microscopy: What it is, why it’s used across a wide range of biological sciences and more. 

What is Spinning Disk Confocal Microscopy?

Spinning Disk Confocal Microscopy, also known as multipoint or array microscopy, is a live-imaging technique that allows Optical sectioning by use pinholes or slits to block out-of-focus light signals.

Unlike widefield microscopy, in confocal microscopy, you'll never get a complete image of your specimen. Only one point of the specimen can be observed--- at any given instant.

How It Works

Unlike other conventional microscopes that use a lamp to illuminate specimens, spinning Confocal Microscopes use laser beams to achieve spot-illumination.

Once the laser beam is released, it’s adjusted by neutral density filters and then it’s sent to a dichroic mirror. From there, the beam hits a set of scanning mirrors.

Together, the two mirrors focus the laser beam onto your specimen. The dye in your specimen will cause part of the light to be reflected into the objective lens.

The emitted light reflects off dichroic and sent to the pinhole aperture. The pinhole is designed to allow only a small central portion of the light through to the Photomultiplier tube (PMT).

It’s in the PMT that the light signal is converted to an electrical signal that will be interpreted by your computer to display an image. 

So why are biology researchers choosing spinning Confocal Microscopes over other types of microscopes?

Here’s why. 

  • Automation

Modern Confocal Microscopes come with a technology that allows them to automatically adjust pin-hole diameter appropriately. This increases accuracy as it helps get rid of unnecessary noisy images.

That also means you won’t waste time adjusting your microscope, allowing you to focus on the most important thing: Studying the specimen. 

  • 3-Dimensional Imaging

Living specimens are usually 3D structures so to completely understand how they work and how they are formed, you need to study their 3D images.

 Confocal Microscopy allows you to capture multiple two-dimensional images of the specimen at different depths that you can use to create an accurate three-dimensional image of the specimen. 

  • High Speed

Image processing in spinning disk confocal microscopy happens so fast that you’ll think your computer is showing a real-time image of your specimen. 

  • No Challenges When Observing Thick Specimens

In conventional widefield microscopy as the specimen increases in thickness, the ability to observe accurate details of the specimen above out-of-focus light becomes extremely difficult.

You can never encounter this problem when using a Spinning Disk Confocal Microscope because it’ll have pinholes or slits that allow it to reject out-of-focus signals.

Furthermore, it has a high-resolution that allows it to scan thick specimens with ease. 

As you can see, Confocal Microscopes are the future. They are fast, easy to use, and more sensitive than other traditional microscopes. They also come with inbuilt technologies that enable them to display accurate details and high-quality images.

Still have a question, feel free to contact us to ask.  

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Amos Fred

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Amos Fred
Joined: April 24th, 2018
Articles Posted: 205

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