A Personal Confocal Imager

Bioimaging Systems of Rockville, Md., has released a second-generation version of its CARV confocal imager.

Aileen Constans
Jun 5, 2005
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Courtesy of BD Biosciences

BD Biosciences–Bioimaging Systems of Rockville, Md., has released a second-generation version of its CARV confocal imager. According to product manager Baggi Somasundaram, the CARV II is the only full spectrum (white-light), pinhole-based spinning disk confocal with real-time viewing and/or recording capabilities on the market. Competing products use either lasers, which are expensive, or slits instead of pinholes, which provide lower resolution. Laser-scanning confocals, with adjustable pinholes for variable Z-resolution, are too slow and harsh to be used for live-cell applications, he adds.

The CARV II scans the sample 1,000 times per second, and combined with the right CCD camera it can record live-cell events quickly without compromising resolution. Users can upgrade a conventional microscope with the CARV II for about $100,000 (US), half the cost of a laser-based system.

Pathologist Donald Winkelmann of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ, who uses the first-generation system, says the newer version offers significant improvements such as an automatic pinhole adjustment, which enables users to perform FRAP (fluorescence recovery after photobleaching) experiments.

Winkelmann's lab shares the microscope with five other members of his department. He says the system has been "amazingly trouble free" and cost-effective, as his department did not have to purchase an expensive service contract or insurance for lasers. "I'm very satisfied in terms of the quality of images [obtained with the microscope], and I'm persnickety about images," Winkelmann quips.