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Environmental chamber for time-lapse microscopy

20 November 2019 Tags: microscopy heated chamber environmental chamber time-lapse microscopy

When I finally got a suitable microscope system after setting up my lab, the existing funds were not sufficient to cover an environmental chamber, and initially we mostly had to focus on snap-shot studies. However, in order to follow cell division events, chromosome dynamics and/or protein localisation and dynamics the use of time-lapse microscopy is pretty much essential and I have been doing these experiments for many years in Bob Lloyd's lab at Nottingham University. For our E. coli work the conditions are pretty simple, as only the temperature needs to be controlled. However, the fact that we work quite a bit with temperature-sensitive mutants requires adequate temperature control.

The funds for an environmental chamber came in the end via a BBSRC research grant and initially I liaised with Nikon, as they had provided the microscope. However, by pure chance I was contacted at the right time by Digital Pixel. Situated in Brighton they had provided a number of chambers for colleagues at the Genome Damage and Stability Centre at the University of Sussex, and the colleagues were quite impressed with the performance of these chambers. Most notably these chambers use vibration-free ceramic heaters, rather than the air-flow solutions that can occasionally cause problems by drying samples etc. Digital Pixel also offered a rather competitive price.

We had an excellent meeting in which it was quite thoroughly established what type of work we do, what requirements there are and what requirements we might have in the future. Digital Pixel is indeed offering quite a tailored solution, and it is especially the anticipation of future needs that I found rather refreshing. The system was then personally delivered and installed – and it simply does what it is supposed to do. The chamber has all the necessary access ports and Digital Pixel is quite happy to swap some panels if the need arises. The heaters are not particularly fast and need a couple of hours to get to a stable temperature, but once this is reached the chamber temperature is kept very constant.

So far I can thoroughly agree with the colleagues at Sussex University: the system simply works without flaws. Initially the controller was limited to a maximum temperature of 42°C, but when the need for 43°C arose this was easily fixed and the system copes with this temperature without any trouble at all. If I had to buy another chamber I certainly would go with them again.

Environmental Chamber directly purchased via Digital Pixel.