This section provides an overview for confocal microscopes as well as their applications and principles. Also, please take a look at the list of 8 confocal microscope manufacturers and their company rankings. Here are the top-ranked confocal microscope companies as of March, 2024: 1.Thorlabs, Inc, 2.Nikon Instruments Inc., 3.ZEISS Microscopy.
A confocal microscope is a type of optical microscope designed to eliminate out-of-focus light by incorporating a pinhole at the focal plane in front of the detector. This allows for the capture of sharp, blur-free images.
It achieves three-dimensional, all-in-focus imaging of an object by collecting blur-free images at various depths and reconstructing them.
The confocal microscope, also known as a confocal laser scanning microscope (CLSM) or laser scanning confocal microscope, is renowned for its ability to produce high-resolution three-dimensional images.
Confocal microscopes are utilized for measuring and analyzing the shape of objects with high sensitivity and resolution. They are ideal for non-contact measurements using laser technology, especially for soft or delicate objects that could be damaged by contact. The small diameter of the laser beam enables the observation of minute details and irregularities.
These microscopes find applications in industrial inspections and the life sciences for cell and organism observation.
Confocal microscopy can measure various surface characteristics, such as average height, differences from reference areas, and surface roughness. It generates color three-dimensional images, facilitating intuitive observation and measurement.
3D images enable specific area measurements, allowing for the quantification of scratches and dents and the assessment of product characteristics based on surface area changes.
Inspections differentiate between acceptable and defective products, improving overall work processes. Applications include printed circuit boards and large LCD panel inspections.
In life sciences, confocal microscopy is used for three-dimensional visualization of cells and tissues, recording changes over time in living specimens to explore and elucidate their functions.
Confocal microscopy principles are applied in various measurement devices, such as Raman microscopes for material identification and multiphoton excitation microscopes for deep tissue observation.
Figure 1: Structure of Confocal Microscope and Optical Microscope
The confocal microscope primarily consists of a laser light source, a beam splitter, lenses, a pinhole, and a detection unit.
Light from the source is directed through the lens to the specimen via the beam splitter. Reflected light from the specimen passes through the lens and beam splitter again, reaching the detector through the pinhole.
Figure 2: Principle of Confocal Microscope
The confocal microscope scans a focused laser beam across the sample, detecting light that is reflected. Only light from the focal point is detected through the pinhole, enhancing depth resolution and reducing blur compared to traditional optical microscopes.
Figure 3. Types of Confocal Microscopes
Confocal microscopes are categorized into single-point and multi-point scanning types.
The single-point type uses a galvanometer scanner for scanning, with a pinhole to eliminate blur. Innovations like acousto-optic deflectors (AODs) and resonant mirrors enhance scanning speed.
The multi-point type employs a rotating disk with multiple pinholes for scanning, with a CCD or CMOS camera detecting the light. This method is faster and suitable for high-speed observations and time-lapse imaging. Line scanning types, using a slit for linear measurements, are also available.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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Nikon Instruments Inc. is a company established in 1917 and based in Melville, New York, as a manufacturer of metallurgical equipment. It specializes in manufacturing super-resolution, inverted, upright, digital, and polarizing microscopes. It also manufactures microscope components, such as micromanipulators, condensers, fluorescent filter cubes, immersion oil, and camera adaptors. The company is part of the Nikon Corporation and has obtained several ISO certifications, including ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Its manufactured products are utilized for clinical, educational, research, and biotech sectors across the USA.
Thorlabs, Inc, established in Newton, NJ in 1989, is a manufacturer of photonics equipment for research, manufacturing, and biomedical applications. Their product portfolio includes optical components, for use in imaging, sensing, and spectroscopy applications, spectrometers and analyzers used for research and industrial applications, fiber optic components and photomultiplier tubes, and imaging devices that capture and measure light signals for diverse applications in scientific research. The company has sales offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, China, and Brazil.
ZEISS Microscopy, established in Jena, Germany, in 1846 is a manufacturer of optics and optoelectronics used in Precision Mechanics, Binoculars, Microscopy, and Eyeglass Lenses. Their product portfolio includes precision optics, such as lenses, mirrors, and prisms, laser mirrors used in laser cutting, and medical devices, optoelectronic devices and Coatings and Thin Films. The company also provides solutions including industrial quality, microscopy research, project simulation, sample testing and product development. The company also offers customer services that include support, custom research projects and customized services.
Leica Microsystems is a developer and manufacturer of microscopes and scientific instruments for the analysis of microstructures and nanostructures. The company is a provider in compound and stereo microscopy, digital microscopy, confocal user scanning, and super-resolution microscopy with related imaging systems, electron microscopy, sample preparation, and surgical microscopy used in medical, life science, and industrial applications. The company’s services include service plans, preventative maintenance, remote care, and qualification services for ensuring compliance of Leica equipment to governmental regulations.
Lasertec Corporation, founded in 1960 and headquartered in Yokohama, Japan, is a manufacturer and supplier of semiconductor-related systems, FPD-related systems, and laser microscopes. The company's product portfolio includes mask inspection systems, mask edge inspection systems, FPD photomask inspection systems, laser microscopes, and lithium-ion batteries. These products find applications in various sectors, including materials science, the flat panel display industry, semiconductor manufacturing, biomedical and life sciences, as well as research and development. The company is ISO 45001 and ISO 9001 certified, with offices in the USA, China, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea for global outreach.
Evident Corporation is a scientific research and development company in Shinjuku, Tokyo that was established in 2008. Formerly known as Olympus Scientific Solutions, the company specializes in developing cutting-edge technology and products for various industries, including aerospace, automotive, electronics, energy, and medical research. Evident Corporation has proliferated and expanded its product offerings and services to meet the needs of its customers. Their product offerings include non-destructive testing (NDT) solutions such as thickness gauges and automated inspection systems, XRF analyzers like handheld XRF analyzers, industrial microscopes, and video scopes and borescopes.
*Including some distributors, etc.
*Including some distributors, etc.
|Number of Companies
|United States of America