Prelude® Functional Imaging Microscope

  • Compact and Maneuverable Multiphoton Functional Imaging System
  • Designed for Two-Photon Imaging of GFP
  • Motorized XYZ Translation and Manual ±90° Rotation

GFP-labeled mouse brain section. This maximum intensity Z-stack is color-coded by depth.

Prelude® shown with TL10X-2P objective. Optical table and sample holder sold separately.

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This video, showing the spontaneous signal of a mouse visual cortex expressing GCaMP6s, was taken with the Prelude. (Images Courtesy of Ann Gruzdeva, 2023 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Imaging Course, Cold Spring Harbor, NY.)
GRIN Lens for Multiphoton Imaging App Note

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The Prelude offers motorized XYZ translation and manual rotation through a ±90° range, providing access to samples at non-vertical angles.

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Some features of the Prelude, shown configured with a PFM450E piezo objective scanner and TL10X-2P objective.


  • Optimized for Two-Photon Imaging of GFP
  • Laser-Alignment-Free Operation
  • Hypersensitive Silicon Photomultiplier (SiPM) Detector 
  • Fine Z-Focus Options:
    • Vibrationless Remote Focus Based on Liquid
      Crystal Technology
    • High-Speed Piezo Objective Scanner
  • Includes Long-Working-Distance 10X or 16X Objective

Ushering in a new level of flexibility for functional imaging, Thorlabs has created a completely integrated two-photon microscopy system suitable for samples with demanding positioning requirements. The Prelude® Functional Imaging Microscope offers motorized XYZ translation and manually operated rotation through a ±90° range, providing multi-axis access to samples at non-vertical angles. Its compact fiber-coupled design eliminates the need for complex alignment procedures and provides a high degree of maneuverability.

A near-infrared 920 nm femtosecond pulsed laser and integrated filter set are ideally suited for two-photon fluorescence imaging of GFP. The fiber-coupled laser source allows for easy assembly, disassembly, and relocation of the system compared to multiphoton microscopes that use free-space laser beams and mirrors. Two microelectromechanical system (MEMS) scanners provide 4.7 kHz resonant-MEMS scanning with low noise.

Compact Format Provides Freedom of Movement
The Prelude is designed for ease of positioning relative to the sample. The included MPM250 motorized rigid stand and PLSXY translation stage offer XYZ translation control with 1.06 µm repeatable motion in each axis, while the ±90° manual rotation range allows for access to samples at a wide range of angles. The fiber-coupled laser source ensures that relocating the microscope is straightforward and requires no laser realignment.

Hypersensitive Silicon Photomultiplier Detector
The included PDA45 silicon photomulitplier (SiPM) detector has a 40% photon detection efficiency at 450 nm and low 25 kcps typical dark count rate, making it ideal for fast imaging of live samples. Unlike traditional photomultiplier tubes (PMTs), SiPMs are not affected by magnetic fields and are undamaged by overexposure to light. This enables the Prelude to be used in a broad range of experimental conditions that may not be suitable for other multiphoton microscopes.

Fine Z-Focus Options
The Prelude is designed to provide fast volumetric imaging without disturbing samples, ideal for in vivo functional imaging. To this end, two fine focus options are available: a remote focus system based on liquid crystal technology, or Thorlabs' PFM450E high-speed piezo objective scanner. Our remote focus system uses liquid crystal lenses to switch between 16 discrete focal planes quickly and without introducing vibrations that could disturb the focus or the specimen. The piezo objective scanner offers access to a 450 µm Z travel range with 3 nm closed-loop resolution and a 25 ms typical settling time for discrete steps as large as 100 µm. It is ideal for precisely setting the focal position of the microscope as well as high-speed, high-resolution Z scanning.

Two standard objectives are available with the Prelude. The TL10X-2P dry objective offers 10X magnification with 0.50 NA and is optimized for multiphoton imaging. It features a long 7.77 mm working distance that allows for convenient manipulation of the sample without disturbing the objective. The correction collar provides flexibility in the imaging setups, permitting imaging of samples with a wide range of cover glass thicknesses as well as submerged samples. The N16XLWD-PF water dipping objective offers 16X magnification with 0.80 NA at a 3.0 mm working distance.

The Innovative Features of the Prelude Microscope
Customer-Inspired Product Highlight:
Developing the Prelude Microscope for Baylor College of Medicine
Sam Tesfai
Sam Tesfai
General Manager,
Thorlabs Imaging Systems

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Key Specifications
Scanner 4.7 kHz Resonant-MEMS Scanning
Scan Speed >12 fps at 512 x 512 Pixels
Collection Optics 7° Non-Descanned Collection Optics (for a Ø20 mm Entrance Pupil)
Detection PDA45 Silicon Photomultiplier (SiPM)
Motion 1" (25.4 mm) of Motorized Travel in X, Y, and Z
±90° of Manually Operated Rotation
Objective Threading M32 x 0.75
Objective (Choose One)
Item # TL10X-2P N16XLWD-PF
Magnification 10X 16X
Collection NA 0.50 0.80
Immersion Dry Water Dipping
Working Distance 7.77 mm 3.0 mm
Field of View 1600 µm x 1600 µm (<100 Hz Scan)
880 µm x 880 µm (4.7 kHz Scan)
1000 µm x 1000 µm (<100 Hz Scan)
550 µm x 550 µm (4.7 kHz Scan)
Remote Focus Range 600 µm 300 µm
Nominal Remote Focus Step Sizeb 40 µm 20 µm
Laser Source
Center Wavelength 920 nm
Pulse Width 125 fs
  • Specifications for Microscope with the Given Objective
  • As the remote focus steps are not exactly equally spaced, true step sizes will differ slightly from the nominal values.

Thorlabs recognizes that each imaging application has unique requirements.
If you have any feedback, questions, or need a quotation, please
use our Prelude contact form or call (703) 651-1700.

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PRELUDE Support Documentation
PRELUDEFunctional Imaging Multiphoton Microscope
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