System Overview: Positioning Stages for Inverse Microscopy

Guide for the Perfect Combination of Positioning Stages, Z Stages, and Sample Holders

Choosing Correctly

Users are often faced with the challenge of combining seemingly conflicting requirements for the positioning system in their microscope. On the one hand, for example, large travel ranges need to be covered at the highest possible speeds, on the other hand, many microscopy techniques require positioning accuracies of far less than 100 nanometers. A tried and tested way to fulfill both requirements is to combine XY stages with fine positioning stages. In order to make this possible for microscope stands of various manufacturers, PI has developed a product portfolio that includes a wide range of sample holders as well. The new system overview "Microscope Stage Configurator" shows how the individual subsystems can be combined.

Starting at the U-780 or U-760 XY motorized stages or the M-545 XY manual stage the configuration lines lead to suitable fine positioning / Z stages and from there to compatible sample holders. For applications that do not require fine positioning systems, the configuration lines lead directly from the XY stages to the sample holders.



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Motorized Stages for Long Travel Ranges with High Velocities

At the center of the overview are the two U 780 PILine® and U-760 PILine® XY stages. Both are driven by low profile ultrasonic motors that use piezo technology. The U 780 PILine® version for the Eclipse Ti / Ti2 from Nikon and for the Leica DMI6000 / DMI8 microscope stands offers long travel ranges up to 135 x 95 mm. The version for the IX, IX2, and IX3 stands from Olympus offers a maximum travel range of 100 x 75 mm.

The U-760 PILine® stage offers travel ranges to 25 x 25 mm – this stage is compatible to the above mentioned inverse microscopes from Nikon and Olympus. Both stages (U-780 and U-760) are offered as systems in combination with a suitable controller (C-867.2U2) and a USB joystick.

The U-780 (above) motorized XY stage and the U-760 (left) are available for microscope stands of all leading manufacturers and are delivered with a controller and a joystick.

Manual Sample Positioning

For manual sample positioning, PI offers the M-545 microscope XY stage. This stage is moved using micrometer screws and offers travel ranges to 25 x 25 mm. Thanks to just 30 mm height, the M-545 has a very low profile and it is compatible with a large number of inverse microscopes of leading manufacturers.

Product / SpecificationsU-780U-760M-545
Travel range135 x 85 mm (DNS and DLS types)
100 x 75 mm (DOS type)
25 × 25 mm25 × 25 mm
VelocityTo 120 mm/sTo 100 mm/s----
Accuracy± 250 nm (bidirectional repeatability)±0,5 µm----
Drive technologyPILine® ultrasonic motorPILine® ultrasonic motorManual, with micrometer screws
Compatibility to microscope standsOlympus IX, IX2, IX3 (U-780.DOS type)
Leica DMI6000, DMI8 (U-780.DLS type)
Nikon Eclipse Ti, Ti2 (U-780.DNS type)
Other stands (other manufacturers) on request
Nikon Eclipse Ti, Ti2
Olympus IX, IX2, IX3
Other stands (other manufacturers) on request
Nikon Eclipse Ti, Ti2 (M-545.MN type)
Olympus IX, IX2, IX3 (M-545.MO type)
Leica DMI6000, DMI8 (M-545.ML type)
Zeiss Axio Observer (M-545.MZ type)


Overview: Partial specifications and stand compatibility of the XY stages from PI

Fine Positioning Stages

The bidirectional repeatability of both motorized XY stages equals ± 250 nm. Even though this is more than adequate for most examination projects using confocal microscopes, the various technologies for high-resolution microscopy ("superresolution") demand travel accuracies in the range of far less than 100 nanometers. Depending on the requirements (aperture, travel range, resolution, or bidirectional repeatability while positioning …), PI offers different fine positioning systems. For example, the P-545 PInano® or the P-541 piezo nanopositioning stage that are equipped with various sensors.

The P-545 PInano® and also the other fine positioning stages can easily be combined with the U-780 and U-760 XY stages using screws. In this way, long travel ranges and nanometer-precision positioning can be integrated for specific applications.

Z Positioning

For many examinations and microscopy techniques a movement of the sample in the Z direction, that is the optical axis of the microscope, is necessary. Often, accuracies in the range of less than 100 nanometers are required. PI offers Z stages that can be mounted to the PILine® XY stages which are suitable for the most important microscope stands and compatible with a variety of sample holders.

If samples need to be positioned with high precision in all three spatial directions, the P-545.3R8S PInano® and the P-545.3D8S PInano® offer differing specifications.

Alternatively, the microscope objective can be moved in the Z directions. PI offers many solutions for this purpose, they are labeled PIFOC. Different properties such as positioning accuracy, travel ranges, dynamics, etc. can be chosen specific to the application. An overview of the PIFOC objective scanners can be found >> under this link.

Specimen Holder

The range of suitable sample holders is as varied as the experiments and routine examinations in laboratories. PI offers a complete portfolio of universal holders, holders for microtiter plates, petri dishes, and even slide holders. Thanks to many variants, the mechanical compatibility to the XY stages and the fine positioning stages is given.

What Fits How? Combining it Right!

The "Microscope Stage Configurator" shows the complete portfolio for inverse microscopes of XY stages, fine positioners, and sample holders. It contains all relevant information to precisely combine all individual subsystems and system components, including possible adapter plates.

You can access all product overview pages using the web version of the flyer. There, you can find detailed specifications on accuracies, travel ranges, velocities, and much more as well as the technical drawings with the actual dimensions.



Microscope Stage Configurator

Sample Stages and Holders for Inverted Microscopes

Version / Date
pdf - 4 MB

Nanopositioning for Microscopy

Fast, Compact, to the Nanometer

Version / Date
pdf - 8 MB
Version / Date
BRO28CN 2018-12
pdf - 15 MB

About this Author

Markus Wiederspahn

Global Campaign Manager, Physik Instrumente (PI) GmbH & Co. KG

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