Upgrade Your Microscope from Manual to Motorized with an XY Stage

Posted in Microscope automationMotorized stages Nov 10th 2020

Prior Automated stages

Many microscopes with exceptional optics capable of producing high-resolution images are underused. The microscope can be an older purchase, a newer system purchased on a limited budget, or it does not meet changed requirements. Automating these microscopes with motorized stages to perform some more complex imaging experiments may offer a solution.

Benefits of Motorized Stages

Life science and material science use microscopes with motorized stages covering a vast range of applications and experiment types.

Motorized stages, when added to microscopes, allow for rapid, smooth, and highly repeatable sample movement. This can be difficult to achieve or impractical, using a manual stage, especially when the experiment requires the operator to perform repeated, precise, and accurate movements over a long time period.

Motorized stages allow the user to pre-program movements and integrate the stage’s positioning within the imaging process. Ultimately, these stages allow for more complex, longer and more efficient imaging. Motorized stages eliminate the operator’s repetitive movements associated with manual stages, which can lead to strain on the joints of the fingers and wrist.

A fully motorized microscope configuration will usually include many of the following features, the majority of which can be supplied by Prior Scientific.

  • Motorized XY stage
  • Motorized Z (focus)
  • Motorized add-on focus drive
  • Stage controllers, such as an external control box or internal PC card
  • Joystick for XY control
  • Focus control
  • Digital camera for automated image acquisition
  • Control software

High-quality imaging and precision offered by motorized stages are essential factors for advanced imaging work. The H117 motorized precision stage for inverted microscopes produced by Prior is one example of a motorized stage. In research examining the distribution of cancer biomarkers on the cell membrane, this stage was shown to be an excellent tool when easily integrated into a manual microscope system. The motorized stage provided the researchers with an excellent combination of high precision and a large travel range.

The H117 stage, motorized focus, motorized filter wheels, and shutters are all controlled by Prior’s ProScan III controller. These components can be integrated into image acquisition software, resulting in full automation of the entire imaging process. Prior’s ProScan stage, in conjunction with other Prior products, can ensure full control of the acquisition hardware allowing the investigator to obtain accurate images of multiple sites throughout the experiment’s duration.

The XY Stage

One of the most important aspects of microscope automation is the XY motorized stage. This stage provides a means of precisely and accurately moving a sample into the instrument’s optical axis. Prior produce a range of XY linear motor stages, including:

  • XY linear motor stages for inverted microscopes
  • XY stages for inverted microscopes
  • XY stages for upright microscopes

Applications in which an experiment might benefit from XY motorized stages are:

  • Routine and ultra-high precision scanning and processing
  • Positioning for multiple samples
  • Live cell imaging
  • High point pressure testing
  • Wafer loading and unloading

Upgrading a manual microscope to a fully motorized system with an XY stage increases operator efficiency and sample throughput. Also, an upgraded motorized system will often provide better calibration, as many stages come with the ability to provide feedback on the sample’s position under an objective lens.

Why You Should Consider Purchasing Motorized Stages Separately

Some microscope manufacturers do not provide upgrades following a purchase. Operators who own an existing manual microscope with good optics may now have the option to upgrade their equipment to an automated system. Typically, it is more cost-effective to purchase a manual microscope with optimal imaging capabilities first followed by upgrading the system to motorized stages. In contrast, buying the whole system upfront can be a much higher investment. Purchasing the XY stage separately ensures the user has the right stage for their application. Prior offers a wide range of motorized stages for most microscopes.

Choose Prior to Automate Your Manual Microscopes

A motorized stage from Prior can allow any investigator or scientist to extend their current microscope’s capabilities. Prior offers an extensive product portfolio of stages for all popular microscope models. These stages are tailored to a variety of applications, from high-precision scanning to routine scanning and position. Prior works with microscope manufacturers to ensure all stages can work seamlessly with their microscopes.