Smart light sheet microscopy for you and me

Jan Huisken

Morgridge Institute for Research, Madison, WI

Discoveries in biology often depend on cutting edge technologies such as microscopy. Commercial microscopes are technically mature but often outdated and not well-tailored to the individual experiment’s requirements. The best and latest microscopes are found in engineering and physics labs and the dissemination of the technology becomes a challenge. We have addressed this issue by developing the Flamingo, a modular, shareable light sheet microscope suited to a new model of scientific collaboration. Each microscope is customized for a given application, equipped to travel from lab to lab and providing widespread access to advanced microscopy. On the basis of scientific collaborations we provide these instruments so that the biologists can perform their experiments in their own lab. The Flamingo's modularity allows a variety of sample mounting techniques (tube, dish, gel, clearing, etc.). A horizontal arrangement offers single-sided illumination (L-SPIM, Huisken et al., Science), double-sided illumination (T-SPIM, Huisken & Stainier, Opt. Lett. 2007) and double-sided detection (X-SPIM, Schmid et al., Nat. Meth. 2013), all within the same framework. The hardware electronics are custom-built and offer remote control of the microscope. The system will evolve over time, driven by the community’s feedback and input. We believe that the Flamingo is a powerful alternative to commercial solutions, open-source microscopes and conventional imaging facilities. More information can be found at

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