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Microscopy Live-Cell Imaging Chambers

The demands of modern confocal microscopy, especially those involving imaging of living cells and tissues, require that researchers take special precautions with their specimens. Indeed, simple microscope slides are unsuitable for many applications, resulting in the development of a broad range of specimen chambers, which can often supply the flexibility a microscopist needs. The following list of resources exemplifies the great variety of specimen chambers that are available today and should help visitors locate the products that are best suited for their specific scientific pursuits.

20/20 Technology - Heating, cooling, and atmospheric control for microscopy are the major goals of 20/20 Technology's efforts. Systems are available with gas exchange and humidity, control, temperatures ranging from -10 to +60 degrees Celsius, and objective heaters for additional thermodynamic stability.

ALA Scientific Instruments - Specializing mainly in the manufacture of electrophysiology tools for the neuroscience research community, ALA Scientific provides electrophysiology chambers, automated electrophysiology control and related accessories. ALA Scientific also offers heating controllers, Peltier-equipped micro-incubators, and inline perfusion heating tubing and accessories.

AutoMate Scientific - AutoMate Scientific designs and manufactures hardware and electronics systems for biological research, pharmacology, and drug discovery. They produce a number of perfusion systems and cell chambers as well as specialized brain slice, tissue, and oocyte chambers. AutoMate Scientific can also provide the programmable electronics for control of perfusion, temperature, sub-millisecond switching, data acquisition, and micromanipulation.

Bellco Glass - Among the products produced by the Vineland, New Jersey based Bellco Glass are ampoules, beakers, media storage bottles, roller bottles, chromatography and HPLC glassware, tubes, flasks, Petri dishes, vials, vessels, and chambers. Generally of greatest interest to live-cell microscopists is the Sykes-Moore culture chamber which facilitates the study of cells by means of high magnification, phase optics, or time-lapse techniques.

BioCrystal - Aiming to produce innovative diagnostic tools, instrumentation, therapeutics, vaccines and procedures for use in medicine and the detection and treatment of disease, BioCrystal developed their OptiCell chamber as a sterile, sealed cell culture environment encased in a frame laden with two optically clear gas-permeable growth membranes and ports for liquid access.

Bioptechs - Bioptechs in an innovative optical engineering firm that designs, develops, and manufacturers live-cell microscopy environmental control instrumentation for qualitative and quantitative widefield and confocal microscopy. Their products include imaging systems, micro-observation environmental control instruments, perfusion pumps, biocompatible tubing for cell culture and specialized fittings and adapters as well as numerous supplemental accessories. In addition to their product catalog, the site contains basic information on live-cell microscopy, a FAQ, and product instructions, as well as links to international distributors and associated websites.

Bioscience Tools - CB Consulting - Bioscience Tools creates solutions for perfusion and flow control, high-resolution live-cell imaging, small volume delivery and software automation. Their live-cell solutions include an ultra-thin imaging chamber and miniature incubators for complete environmental control.

C and L Instruments, Inc. - Addressing fluorescence applications since 1988, C and L's products include a multi-wavelength spectrofluorometer, illumination sources, a photon-counting detector module and a fluorescence imaging system. Additionally, they have developed a perfusion and incubation chamber, known as the Vacu-Cell, for live-cell microscopy that holds the optical surface by one side using the force of a vacuum.

CellBiology Trading - The commercial arm of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) is known as EMBL Enterprise Management Technology Transfer GmbH (EMBLEM). In collaboration with EMBLEM, CellBiology Trading makes available a microscope chamber for environmental control during live cell imaging that is compatible with their microinjection products.

Dagan Corporation - DAGAN Corporation manufactures innovative scientific instruments for microscopy, biophysics, physiology, electrochemistry, electrophysiology, and neuroscience. These products include a microscope stage temperature controller and a perfusion system amongst others.

Grace Bio-Labs - Grace-Bio Labs is a provider of innovative labware for the molecular study of cells in situ. The company manufactures three-dimensional microporous coatings on microscope slides and a variety of "press to seal" enclosures for microarrays, cell culture, and high throughput cytochemistry, hybridization, cytogenetics, and fluorescent imaging applications. Custom-designed chambers can also be created to meet the specifications of customers with unique application requirements.

Harvard Apparatus - Founded in 1901 to manufacture high quality physiology teaching equipment, Harvard Apparatus has since expanded to develop and produce an extensive array of various types of scientific equipment. Amongst the company's many offerings are several tissue and cell perfusion chambers, the majority of which are designed for applications in electrophysiology. Some of the instruments are, however, suitable for microscopy purposes.

Immunetics - Immunetics, a company that attempts to develop and bring to the market products which solve significant problems in diagnostic testing and research, supplies a cell adhesion flow chamber that is designed for performing dynamic cell adhesion assays in a laminar flow environment. The transparent acrylic device permits the study of interactions between cells immobilized on a microscope slide and cells in the fluid phase.

Integrated Biodiagnostics - Based in Munich, Germany, Integrated Biodiagnostics (commonly referred to by the acronym: IBIDI) develops and markets a "Lab-on-a-Slide" technology, known as micro-slides, for the analysis of living cells and their interactions with biomolecules. These imaging chambers are offered in a wide spectrum of configurations to suit most live-cell imaging applications in fluorescence, differential interference contrast, confocal, and multiphoton microscopy.

Intracel - Established in 1986, Intracel has become one of the United Kingdom's leading suppliers of equipment for researchers in electrophysiology, transgenesis, ICSI, and related disciplines. The company, which has developed its own line of products that include self-leveling and passive anti-vibration tables, amplifiers, pulse generators, transducers, capillary glass, Huxley type micromanipulators, and cell perfusion chambers, also markets items produced by others. The main cell perfusion chamber offered by Intracel is stainless steel and temperature controlled.

In Vitro Systems and Services - This German company makes gas-permeable plastic foil that it incorporates into Petri dishes and bioreactors. Their primary distributor, Greiner Bio-One, www.greinerbioone.com, maintains an English language page.

Invitrogen Corporation - Invitrogen provides products and support for life science technologies and their product family includes known industry brands such as Molecular Probes, Gibco, and BioReliance. Through their recently acquired Molecular Probes division, Invitrogen is the provider of the Attofluor cell chamber designed for live-cell imaging on either upright or inverted microscopes.

Kent Scientific - Based in Litchfield, Connecticut, Kent Scientific is the world leader in non-invasive blood pressure monitoring in mice and rats. In addition, the company supplies a large number of instruments for physiology, including a collection of organ baths and live tissue chambers. Several tissue and cell perfusion chambers for microscopy comprise part of their independently designed offerings, and the company also sells Bioptechs incubation chambers.

Life Imaging Services - Life Imaging Services provides professional support for every aspect of live microscopy and data presentation. The company has also developed a limited number of products that they now offer to consumers via their website, including the Ludin Chamber. This small, stainless steel piece of equipment for 18 mm coverslips may be utilized as either an open or closed perfusion chamber, and its beveled design facilitates access for micromanipulation.

MatTek - Primarily specializing in the production of normal, human cell-derived, three dimensional, organotypic in vitro tissue models, MatTek also manufactures glass bottom culture dishes that combine the convenience of standard size disposable plastic Petri dishes with the optical quality of glass. These dishes are routinely utilized in confocal, polarized light, and fluorescence imaging, and are also ideal for live cell microscopy. Free sample dishes may be ordered from the company's website.

Nalge Nunc International - Nalge Nunc International designs, develops, and manufactures plastic products for use in labware, packaging, environmental, biotech, and life science applications. The company offers several product lines which comprise a wide range of vials, bottles, flasks, wellplates, coverslips, dishes, chambers, slides, and more. The Lab-Tek chamber slide system that they manufacture is particularly useful for viral and mycoplasma testing, chromosome studies, toxicity tests, and immunocytology, and may be equipped with a chambered coverglass for high-resolution microscopy. Nalge Nunc also provides custom molding services to meet individual customer needs.

Nevtek - The manufacturer of the ASI 400 Air Stream Incubator, Nevtek also provides web space to Lucas-Highland, the producer of the DSC200 Dvorak-Stotler Controlled-Environment Culture Chamber. The chamber, which is made of stainless steel, Teflon, glass, and a special nontoxic tin-silver alloy solder, may be disassembled for cleaning or can be autoclaved fully intact. Though it is not temperature-controlled, the chamber may be easily fitted to a heated stage or utilized with other temperature-controlling devices, such as the incubator offered by Nevtek.

Pathology Devices (Neue) - Based in Maryland, Pathology Devices has acquired the Neue Product Group and its assets to provide quality research instrumentation to low volume niche markets not served well by mainstream providers. The company is currently focusing their attention on the live-cell imaging as well as the tissue microarray markets. The original Neue Product Group LiveCell stage top incubation platform has become a standard piece of equipment in many imaging core facilities, and Pathology Devices is actively working on continual product improvements and expanding into international markets. The launch of the LiveCell 3 is one such incremental improvement that adds humidity control to the already stable performance of temperature and carbon dioxide, all in one integrated system.

PeCon - As researchers at the University of Ulm, the two company founders focused their work largely on mastering in vitro cultivation of cells and tissues. Through collaboration with Carl Zeiss, Göttingen and Leica, Wetzlar, PeCon offers microscope-specific products to control known vital parameters for successful cultivation of various cell types and tissues for live-cell imaging.

Physitemp Instruments - Physitemp Instruments has primarily been dedicated to designing and manufacturing precision temperature measurement systems, including monitoring and thermocouple microprobes, for physicians, bioscientists, and engineers. Their products now include Peltier-equipped heating and cooling stages for microscopes and custom thermal chambers.

Solent Scientific Limited - Solent Scientific produces bioresearch microscope incubators for various upright and inverted microscopes. Based on a full-enclosure design, their microscope incubators can be adapted to accommodate all configurations, provide precise and accurate temperature control, and help stabilize focus drift.

Tokai Hit - Based in Japan, Tokai Hit produces microscope environmental control systems and technology that is marketed in the United States through a country-wide distribution network. The site is written in Japanese, but contains a link to an English version with an abundance of information about the available systems.

WaferGen - The WaferGen SmartSlide System is designed as a long term imaging enabling platform that can keep adherent cells alive for long durations on the company's proprietary micro titer plates. SmartSlide can create individual user-defined microenvironments in each one of the six wells while the plate is on an inverted microscope, without having to take the plate in and out of an incubator.

Warner Instruments - A subsidiary of Harvard Apparatus, founded in 1901 by Dr. William T. Porter of the Harvard Medical School, Warner Instruments designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes scientific instruments for the worldwide life sciences research community. Among their enormous collection of products is a wide range of chambers, many of which are suitabe for routine live-cell and tissue imaging. The RC-30, for example, is a low profile chamber with special features for confocal imaging.

WillCo Wells - Based in the Netherlands, WillCo Wells originally started producing small Petri dishes based on an existing design that they had modified. Since then the company has worked with professionals in fertility and tissue culture laboratories to design a range of glass bottom dishes. The glass at the bottom of the company's dishes is 0.17 millimeters thick, and products in the WillCo-dish line can be supplied with a grid or an indium tin oxide coating on the external surface of the glass.

World Precision Instruments - Growing from their status as a manufacturer of amplifiers and stimulators used in nerve, skin and muscle research, WPI provides several stage heating and cooling solutions including a transparent stage heater. Their FluoroDish glass-bottom culture dishes and line of air heaters can be valuable accessories in live-cell microscopy.

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