ASI’s new compact 3D/4D Stage

ASI has been creating automation solutions for microscopy for three decades. Recently we starting getting requests for a XYZ stage for moving small objects in 3D space (our FTP system works well for larger objects but has a large footprint). Our first such 3D stages comprised linear stages connected by dovetail connectors, but we designed brackets that make connecting our linear stages even more flexible and sturdy. Furthermore a base plate makes it easy to mount the stack-up of linear stages to a breadboard. The result is that we now officially offer a 3D (and 4D) stage stack-up of individual stages.

Some applications require a rotational motion, commonly called a “4D” stage, especially horizontal light sheet setups with a sample dipped into an imaging chamber (OpenSPIM geometry). Fortunately a few years ago we developed a small sturdy rotating stage for rotating a camera on a C-mount adapter. We re-purposed this rotating stage to turn our 3D stage into a 4D stage. The only quirk is that the sample needs to be connected to an adapter with female C-mount threads (ASI can provide adapters if needed). Compared with the standard 4D stage recommended for OpenSPIM, ASI’s implementation has much better repeatability, finer motion control, and more extensive feature set; however it is also more bulky and more expensive.

The 3D/4D stages are controlled by ASI’s standard electronics so they can be used off-the-shelf in Micro-Manager and other programs supporting ASI controllers. An important feature for many light sheet applications is slow continuous motion with very uniform speed, which feature is included with most of ASI’s motorized stages (the secret is mostly in the drive electronics and firmware for our DC servo motors). Among the stages you can easily mix and match stage travel, encoder type, and leadscrew pitch.

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