How Confocal Microscopy Works & How We Save You Time & Money

Excedr - Confocal Microscopes

Excedr can source all equipment types and can accommodate any model preferences your lab might have. Request a confocal microscope lease estimate today and see how leasing a confocal microscope can simplify equipment procurement and balance sheet management.

All equipment brands/models are available

The Advantages of Excedr’s Confocal Microscope Leasing Program:

  • Eliminates the upfront cost of purchasing equipment by spreading its cost over time
  • Minimizes equipment downtime with included complete repair coverage and preventive maintenance
  • Takes advantage of potentially 100% tax deductible* payments, providing you significant cash-savings
  • Expedites the administrative work needed for instrument procurement and logistics
  • Conserves working capital,  enabling you to reinvest in your core business and operations (staffing, inventory, marketing/sales, etc.)
  • Accommodates all manufacturer and model preferences

*Please consult your tax advisor to determine the full tax implications of leasing equipment.

a microscope, an ocular lens, and microscopic image next to each other

Confocal microscopy is an optical technique that uses fluorescence, an excitation light source, and pinhole spatial filters to obtain high-resolution images of biological and non-biological samples.

It is similar to wide-field fluorescence microscopy in that fluorescence optics are used. Unlike traditional fluorescence microscopes, however, confocal microscopy focuses a laser light source onto a defined spot at a specific depth within the sample. This creates the emission of fluorescent light at the exact point defined and, using a pinhole aperture inside the optical pathway, out-of-focus light is removed from the field of view. This leads to much clearer images being produced.

The term Confocal is derived from the conjunction of two focal planes: the objective lens focus point and the focus point where the aperture is placed. 

Confocal imaging increases resolution and contrast through the use of the pinhole spatial filters. One pinhole is placed in a conjugate plane with a scanning point on the specimen, and a second pinhole is positioned in front of the detector (e.g., photomultiplier tube). 

This effectively removes out-of-focus light and provides a crisper image with the maximal resolution possible for the objective lens being used.

Modern confocal microscopes offer high-power, high-resolution, and multicolor capabilities. They are commonly used to collect high-quality multispectral images of biological and non-biological samples across the visible range. Their maximum magnification level, in general, is 1000x when combining a 10x ocular with a 100x objective lens.

In addition, specialized confocal microscopes can image living cells, and work at very high speeds to perform live-cell imaging without causing severe photo damage, photobleaching, or phototoxicity. Confocal microscopes are even used to assist with in vivo preparations.

Furthermore, modern units are often designed as completely integrated confocal systems. In these systems, an optical microscope works together with a detector or multiple detectors, a computer, multiple laser systems, a wavelength selection device, and beam scanning assembly to produce images and obtain valuable information about a sample. These integrated systems are typically referred to as digital or video imaging systems.

Basic confocal microscopes and more robust systems are used extensively in the life sciences (e.g., biology and cell biology), materials science, and semiconductor inspection. When acquiring one, it’s essential to understand your needs, as this will inform whether or not you’ll want to lease a fully integrated system or something a little less complex.

Confocal Microscopy Techniques, Variations, & Costs

a hand holding an ocular lens

Confocal microscopes offers several advantages over conventional optical microscopes (e.g. light microscopes) including shallow depth of field, elimination of out-of-focus glare, and the ability to collect serial optical sections from thick specimens. Optical sectioning provides important structural information regarding both biological or non-biological samples. 

Multiple subtypes of confocal microscopes have been developed. 

Despite their differences, each subtype relies on fluorescence, or the generation of photons using controlled light sources and fluorophores, to produce an image. We’ll cover some of the subtypes below.

Laser Scanning (CLSM)

Imaging of a sample’s surface provides a lot of information about that object but does not provide a detailed picture of the entire object.

Confocal laser scanning microscopes (CLSM), also known as laser scanning confocal microscopes (LSCM), are able to provide 3D reconstructions of a sample. CLSM adds optical sectioning to standard or wide-field confocal microscopy by allowing for depth selectivity.

This is done by passing the laser beam through a light source aperture that allows for depth selectivity. Multiple depths of the object can then be imaged and each depth’s images can be stitched together to achieve a true 3D rendering of the specimen. This imaging technique is also known as optical sectioning.


Spinning Disc (SDCLM)

Due to the multiple layers that are needed to be imaged in CLSM, it is required that the sample remains still, which is relatively time-consuming. Spinning disk laser confocal laser microscopy (SDCLM) is able to mitigate these shortcomings by using multiple pinholes to project multiple parallel excitation light beams.

These pinholes are arranged on a rotating Nipkow disk that is located within the microscope plane. Due to the spinning of the disk and the multiple pinholes used, images can be captured at a rate of thousands per second.

One disadvantage to this, however, is that due to the holes being larger, the images obtained cannot block out as much background fluorescent light and the result is not as detailed.


Programmable Array Microscope (PAM)

PAM utilizes a similar methodology to SDCLM but is able to have programmable pinholes. It uses a digital micromirror device that is used as a spatial light modulator.

This allows that user to tune their microscope light source to match the specific experimental parameters that they are looking at. The microscope can be changed quickly if the experimental conditions require it.

The major advantages that PAM has over other confocal microscopy techniques are that it is controlled by software, has no moving parts, and offers complete flexibility in its lighting and detection methods.


Serotonin & Decision Making

Serotonin, one of the better-known neurochemicals, contributes to wellbeing and happiness, however, it may also be vital to understanding how our brains function in more extreme conditions.

Recent researchers found that serotonin levels may vary depending on the specific emergency situation that an animal is in. For example, if a mouse is in an exposed field and a hawk is diving down to eat it, the fight-or-flight response kicks in and tells the mouse to run.

If however, that same mouse sees the hawk first and the hawk is unaware of the mouse, the more appropriate response is to freeze. Researchers have found that serotonin neurons trigger escape mechanisms in events of high danger. In lower-danger environments, these same neurons trigger a pausing reaction. If true, this discovery could completely change how we view our brains during these emergency situations.

Observing these types of reactions is not easy and requires highly accurate and powerful microscopes. Confocal laser scanning microscopes aid researchers in imaging and understanding how these neurons are triggered and work.


We Offer Real-Time Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope Leases to Fit Every Need

an ocular lens and eyepiece tube with a microscopic image displayed

Interested in leasing a laser scanning or spinning disk confocal microscope? We can help you procure it. Our microscope leases are designed to be flexible, customizable, and founder-friendly. 

Additionally, we provide a wide range of other microscope solutions, including other light microscopy,  X-ray, or Raman microscopy equipment. This includes confocal microscopy alternatives like two-photon and multiphoton microscopes and microscope systems. 

Get in touch with us and we can talk about what specific equipment you would like to lease. Or, if you already know what you’d like, and have a quote from a manufacturer, request a lease estimate instead to get the application process started today.

Operating Lease

This off-balance sheet financing structure provides three options at the end of the term. The lessee has the option to return the equipment to the lessor, renew at a discounted rate, or purchase the instrument for the fair market value. Monthly payments are also 100% tax deductible which yields additional monetary savings.


If you recently bought equipment, Excedr can offer you cash for your device and convert your purchase into a long-term rental. This is called a sale leaseback. If you’ve paid for equipment within the last ninety days, we can help you recoup your investment and allow you to make low monthly payments. This also frees up money in your budget rather than tying it down to a fixed asset.

Confocal Microscope Manufacturers & Models
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Smartproof 5, LSM 9 Family, LSM 900, LSM 980, LSM 900 with Airyscan 2, LSM 980 with Airyscan 2

Elyra 7

FV3000, IXplore Spin

IXplore SpinSR

A1 HD25, A1R HD25, C2+, CSU series, CSU-X1, CSU-W1, CSU-W1 SoRa,



Opterra II

VK-X Series, VK-X1000

Dragonfly Models, Dragonfly 200, Dragon 500

Molecular Devices:
ImageXpress Confocal

and more!


Operating Capital Benefits

Operating Capital Benefits

Excedr's operating lease structure allows you to keep your business credit line open for expansions, staffing, and other operational expenses. Additionally, it strengthens the cash flow of your business and keeps cash reserves free for business development opportunities.

Effects on Credit

Effects on Credit

Leasing / renting provides you with non-dilutive financing and does not hinder your future borrowing ability. You're able to acquire the equipment you need without the baggage associated with traditional financing.

Speed of Approval

Speed of Approval

Excedr's program allows you to respond quickly as your need for equipment and technology arises. You can be approved with minimal documentation and have the equipment you need in operation and generating revenue for your business quickly.

Refurbished Equipment

Refurbished Equipment

Unlike traditional financing and leasing companies, the Excedr program can accommodate refurbished equipment in addition to demo units. If you are looking for additional cost-savings, we recommend considering this option.