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College of Pharmacy

  • Microscopy Core
  • Microscopy Core
  • Microscopy Core

Microscopy Core

Microscopy Core at Center for Targeted Therapeutics (CTT)  is a core facility that provides access to state-of-the-art biological imaging technologies for University of South Carolina researchers, collaborators and external organizations throughout the Columbia area. 


The center, which is housed within the Coker Life Science Building, offers a variety of imaging technologies, including phase contrast, differential interference contrast (DIC), widefield fluorescence, and confocal microscopy.

The Microscopy Core serves a large community of researchers who study a wide range of topics in drug discovery and biomedical sciences. 

The director of the Microscopy Core is Research Assistant Professor Vitali Sikirzhytski.


Microscopy Core Resources

Leica Microsystems DM IRE2

There are two of these systems, one within an environmental chamber for live cell imaging. Each uses the Leica DM IRE2 inverted stand with motorized objective turret, z positioning, and fluorescence filter changing. The objectives on each include 10x/0.25n.a. Ph1, 40x/0.6n.a. Ph2 HCX PL FLUOTAR, 63x/1.4 HCX PL APO and 100x/1.4 HCX PL APO. The microscopes use phase contrast with the 10x and 40x objectives and differential interference contrast with the 63x objective.

100W mercury arc lamps provide excitatory light for fluorescence imaging and there are filter cubes for DAPI, GFP (FITC & Cy2), TRITC (Cy3 and Texas Red) and Cy5 (Alexafluor633). Both DM IRE2 microscopes have CCD cameras for fluorescence imaging, one a Leica DC350 FX and the other a Photometrics Coolsnap HQ. The microscopes and cameras are controlled with personal computers running Leica FW4000 software. The software enables the user to set up image acquisitions incorporating z-series, time series and multiple color channels. The FW4000 software also performs basic analysis and image processing functions.

Leica Microsystems AS MDW

The AS MDW was developed for live cell fluorescence imaging. The system uses the DM IRE2 stand described above. In addition to a mercury lamp it has a Xenon lamp in a monochromator. This latter source is more stable over time and causes less phototoxicity in comparison to the mercury lamp. The AS MDW also has a motorized stage so that multiple fields can be imaged, over time, in the same experiment, increasing the number of cells analyzed. There is a humidified chamber which fits on the stage and can be perfused with custom mixed gases, such as 5% CO2 in air, to maintain the proper pH of bicarbonate-buffered media. The system is equipped with N PLAN L 40x/0.55 CORR, HCX PL APO 63x/1.30 GLYCEROL and HCX PL APO 100x/1.4 OIL objectives. Differential interference contrast optics provide contrast in bright field images. The 63x objective is optimized for 37°C and is on a Piezo mount for 3ms focus changes during z stack acquisition. On the bottom port of the stand is a Photometrics Coolsnap HQ camera. Multiple image planes can be acquired at each time point and the resulting data can be processed by 3D image deconvolution.

Olympus IX81 Fluorescence Microscope

The Olympus IX81 has an inverted motorized stand controlled by the IX2-UCB control box. Fluorescence illumination is from a Sutter Instruments Lambda LS Xenon lamp with liquid light guide. Fluorescence filter changing is done by the Sutter Instruments Lambda 10-3 filter changer. There are filter cubes for DAPI, FITC, and TRITC. For more rapid filter changing for live cell imaging there is a filter wheel containing emission filters for DAPI, FITC, TRITC and Cy5. Also for live cell imaging there is a Bioptechs Delta T5 culture dish temperature controller. The objectives include a UPlanFL N 10x/0.30 Ph1, a LUCPlan FL N 40x/0.60 Ph2 with correction collar for long working distance, a UApo/340 40x/1.35 oil iris which transmits UV light for 340/380 ratio imaging, a PlanApo N 60x/1.42 oil and a UPlanSApo 100x/1.40.

Carl Zeiss Axiovert 200

There are three identically configured Zeiss Axiovert microscopes on air tables. Each is equipped with 10x, 20x and 32x objectives, phase contrast optics, a Zeiss AxioCam MRc color camera and a PC interface running Zeiss Axiovision. These are used for routine phase contrast and color imaging of live and stained specimens.

Carl Zeiss LSM 700 Confocal Microscope

The LSM700 has a  scan head  with two photomultiplier tube  (PMT) detectors on an inverted Axio Observer Z1 stand. There are four solid state lasers producing lines at 405nm, 635nm, 555nm and 488nm. A transmitted light PMT collects transmitted light images using differential. A secondary dicroic beamsplitter facilitates acquiring lambda scans to be used for linear unmixing. 

The entire microscope stage and objective turret are enclosed in an environmental chamber to have stable temperature and CO2 control for live cell imaging. There is a motorized stage for acquiring multiple fields in separate wells of a multiwell plate at each time point in time lapse data acquisition. 


ZEISS PALM system for laser microdissection combines powerful imaging capabilities (bright field, phase contrast, multi-channel fluorescence) with robust and operationally simple microdissetion technology. 

PALM MicroBeam uses a focused laser beam to cut out and isolate the selected specimen without contact. The patented laser catapult isolates the target area fast and uncontaminated. It allows to obtain the homogenous analysis material necessary for meaningful scientific results.  The short laser pulse minimizes time heat transfer to adjacent areas, allowing isolation of vital life cells.