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Gibraltar® Platforms for Olympus Microscopes
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Burleigh®, a division of Thorlabs, manufactures leading edge equipment for electrophysiology research such as this Gibraltar® Platform. The platforms featured here, which are designed for use with Olympus BX50WI and BX51WI upright microscopes*, are a stable and flexible mechanical solution for electrophysiology research. The XY platform provides reliable and reproducible movement, either manual or motorized, of the microscope relative to the Gibraltar stage. This allows the user to change the field of view (FOV) without moving the sample itself, thus preventing disruption to patch recording.
Thorlabs offers four versions of our motorized platforms and four versions of our manual platforms to meet the user's individual laboratory needs. Our platform can support the installation of multiple micromanipulators, chambers, or other instruments around the microscope objective while providing superior mechanical and thermal stability. This stability is particularly important in sensitive electrophysiology research such as multiple patching.
Our Gibraltar platform has four large-diameter columns that rigidly support the platform, enabling it to be directly bolted to an optical table or mounted to our base plate. These columns are height adjustable, allowing the platform to accommodate various microscopes, chambers, headstages, and approach angles. When combined with our micromanipulators, the Gibraltar platform gives unparalleled control over pipette and microscope position. A hardware kit for assembling the Gibraltar platform is included.
Manual vs. Motorized Control
The Gibraltar platform is available with either a manual or motorized XY stage for manipulation of the Olympus microscope position. The manual control uses micrometers that offer a total travel range of 1" at 40 threads/inch. These simple, yet reliable, micrometers have a resolution of <5 µm and feature a friction lock to maintain the platform's position.
Our motorized stage gives the user fast, reliable translation with greater functionality than our manual stage. This motorized stage offers 1" of travel in each direction and a position resolution of 5 µm (at min speed). The translation is controlled by a joystick and has two speed settings, allowing for quick and precise movement of the stage. Additionally, the motorized stage has two position buttons, allowing the user to store up to two positions for quick and accurate transition between two separate FOVs.
Solid Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel Platform
There are two available options for the top platform: solid aluminum or stainless steel. Our solid aluminum platform is coated in black epoxy and features through holes. The stainless steel platform offers a magnetic surface with 1/4"-20 taps. Instruments such as micromanipulators may be mounted using either magnetic bases or 1/4"-20 screws. Additionally, the stainless steel platform offers a honeycomb structure for vibration stability and spill-proof holes to protect the microscope from accidental spills. The drawing to the right shows the dimensions and hole spacings for the aluminum and stainless steel platforms. See the Components Guide tab for more information on the available options.
* The bodies of Olympus BX50WI and BX51WI microscopes have mounting holes in locations that vary from unit to unit. Please contact ImagingTechSupport@thorlabs.com prior to purchase so that we may ensure a proper fit.
Solid Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel Top Plate
Our solid aluminum top plate provides a solid surface for electrophysiology research. Consisting of a 1/2" solid piece of aluminum, this top plate delivers a stable platform for mounting hardware and equipment near the microscope objective. With through holes for 1/4"-20 (M6) bolts, this plate can be integrated with either imperial or metric devices.
Our stainless steel top plate offers several advantages over its solid aluminum counterpart. This top plate is magnetic, providing the user with the freedom to conveniently place hardware in the optimal position (through the use of a magnetic base). Instead of through holes, this plate features 1/4"-20 tapped holes. These tapped holes not only provide the option of mounting equipment directly to the board with a 1/4"-20 hex screw, but they have also been designed to be leak proof. Each tapped hole is sealed with a nylon-based cup; liquid spills on the surface of the top plate are collected within these cups, thereby preventing liquid from dripping down onto the microscope below. One final advantage of our stainless steel top plate is the honeycomb structure, which provides additional vibration isolation and stability.
Our Gibraltar Platform is available with or without an attachable base plate with rubber grommet feet. When purchased without a base plate, the Gibraltar platform is mounted directly to any imperial or metric optical table or ScienceDesk™ (please refer to the Owner's Manual for instructions on mounting the Gibraltar to an optical table). Both options provide a secure, stable, and static mounting solution for our platform.
The inclusion of the base plate allows the user greater flexibility in platform placement. The rubber feet and weight of the Gibraltar platform will ensure that it cannot be accidently moved. However, it will allow the user to pick up and move the platform (please note, when moving the platform the microscope and mounted hardware needs to be removed first) and move it to a new desired location without deconstructing the entire platform.
Manual vs. Motorized Translation
The Gibraltar's XY translation stage for microscope position manipulation is available with either manual or motorized translators. Manual translation is accomplished through two simple, yet precise, mechanical micrometers. These micrometers provide 1" (25.4 mm) of translation in both directions with a resolution <5 µm. Additionally, these micrometers feature a friction lock, allowing the user the ability to lock down the translation stage, preventing movement of the microscope relative to the sample.
In contrast to the mechanical micrometers, the motorized option provides the user with two stepper motors through which the stage is translated. These fast and precise motors provide 1" of translation in both directions with a resolution of 5 µm. Although the resolution of the mechanical micrometer is slightly better, the resolution of the motors is still appropriate for microscope movement and provides several advantages over the mechanical option. These motors utilize a simple joystick for user interface that can translate the stage in both the X and Y directions. Two speeds are available for user convenience: a fast speed (0.4 mm/s) for rapid translation and a slow speed (3.0 µm/s) for precise positioning. The motorized option also incorporates the ability to save two independent positions to memory, and simple two button control allows the user to quickly translate the stage between these set values. This feature is particularly useful for experiments that demand the quick and accurate investigation of two completely different Fields of View (FOV) within the same sample.