Biological Imaging Facility

Marianne Bronner – Faculty Advisor
Andres Collazo – Director

The Biological Imaging Facility (BIF, formerly called the Biological Imaging Center, BIC) is the only core facility on the Caltech campus providing light microscopy resources. We are located in the basement (room B133) of the Caltech Beckman Institute which, together with the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, support the BIF. The BIF has 10 microscopes. Seven are confocal microscopes for optical sectioning of fluorescently labeled samples. Five are Zeiss laser scanning confocal microscopes (LSMs), one is a Leica STELLARIS 8 FALCON confocal system with TauSense and the last is a Nikon Spinning Disc confocal. The Leica FALCON module allows the system to do fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) and 5 HyD detectors, combined with a white light laser (WLL), can image fluorophore emissions out to 850 nm. The LSM 880s have the Fast Airyscan module for higher speed and/or super-resolution microscopy as well as providing a higher signal to noise ratio. The LSM 980 has the next generation Fast Airyscan 2 and Definite Focus 2. Two LSMs and the Leica STELLARIS 8 DIVE have multiphoton/two-photon lasers (MP, a category of nonlinear optics, NLO) which allow for deeper imaging of tissues. Two have non-descanned detectors (NDDs) for greater sensitivity. The Nikon microscope is also set up for doing Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy and the super-resolution technique using Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (STORM). The seventh microscope is a Leica DMI 6000 wide field fluorescence microscope for deconvolution analyses. The last two microscopes are Light Sheet Fluorescence Microscopes (LSFM, also called selective/single plane illumination microscope, SPIM) that provide high speed optical sectioning. One is a LaVision Biotec Ultramicroscope II, the other is a Zeiss Z.1. Seven microscopes are equipped with incubation chambers for controlling temperature and/or CO2 levels. For more information click on the link below to the Biological Imaging Facility website.

In addition, the Biological Imaging Facility provides computational facilities for the processing and analysis of imaging data using multiple software packages. These include the powerful Imaris image processing software from Bitplane. We are one of their North American Advanced Imaging Centers, so users are invited to present challenging problems to Bitplane through us. The other software available is Huygens from Scientific Volume Imaging B.V. (SVI), a powerful program for image deconvolution.

Instruments in the Biological Imaging Facility are available to users through an on-line calendar system. New users can register and request training through the calendar system.

All of the major resources are available to users at a modest recharge rate of $30/hour for Caltech users. Users outside of Caltech are charged a higher rate.

In addition to personal training, arranged through the calendar system, the Biological Imaging Facility offers lecture and laboratory classes (Bi/BE 177 and 227, winter term) for students, postdocs and staff.


Dr. Andres Collazo


  • 226 Beckman Institute
  • Mail Code 139-74
  • (626) 395-2761

Prof. Marianne Bronner

Faculty Advisor

  • 234 Beckman Institute
  • Mail Code 139-74
  • (626) 395-3355

Dr. Giada Spigolon

Microscopy Technician

  • B133 Beckman Institute
  • Mail Code 139-74
  • (626) 395-2860