Confocal  microscopy Confocal  microscopy

Confocal microscopy

Confocal laser scanning microscopy is an optical imaging technique for improving the optical resolution and contrast of a microscopic image by using a spatial pinhole to block out-of-focus light in image formation.


There are three well-known branches of microscopy: optical, electron, and scanning probe microscopy, along with the emerging field of X-ray microscopy.


To improve contrast and specificity of imaging biological samples, fluorescence dyes and proteins are used to image structures of the cell and details of other biologic materials.


A laser scanning microscope (LSM) is an indispensable imaging device in the biological sciences. Many laser scanning microscopes utilize a confocal optical system, where a pinhole is placed at the focal point to remove light that is emitted outside of the focal plane in the sample. As the confocal optical system only detects fluorescence that is emitted at the sample's focal point, the optical resolution in the sample's depth is far superior to that of wide-field microscopes.


However, when the pinhole blocks light emitted from outside the focal point, less signal light reaches the detector. For this reason, high-sensitivity detectors, such as photomultiplier tubes (PMTs), hybrid photo detectors (HPDs), and MPPCs (SiPMs), are commonly used with the system. The high quantum efficiency and low dark current of these detectors allow for contrast within the sample structure and high dynamic range in comparison with the background.

Components of a confocal laser scanning microscope

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Recommended products

PMT modules for laser scanning microscopes

High sensitivity in 300 nm to 700 nm range. Low dark current. Variable gain performance broadens the microscope’s dynamic range.


High sensitivity and good timing performance.

This light detection module features high sensitivity yet minimum variance of performance by detectors. It has higher durability against strong ambient light.

A phase modulator that enables laser beam control such as aberration correction and simultaneous multi-point irradiation.

MEMS mirror

The S13989-01H is an electromagnetically driven MEMS mirror produced by applying Hamamatsu's unique MEMS technology. Two-axis operation (X-axis and Y-axis) enables two-dimensional scanning (raster scanning) using reflections of laser light or the like.


These amplifier units are designed to amplify a PMT’s output.

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