System Configuration: Nanopositioning Stages for Inverted Microscopes

How to Combine Motorized Stages, Piezo Stages and Sample Holders

Micrometer or Nanometer Class Stages – What to use When

Microscope users are often faced with the challenge of combining seemingly conflicting requirements when selecting a precision positioning stage. On one hand, large positioning ranges need to be covered at high velocity, on the other hand, many microscopy techniques require long term stability and positioning accuracies in the nanometer range. A tried and tested way to fulfill both requirements is to combine motorized XY stages with piezo nanopositioning stages. In order to facilitate the integration into microscopes of various manufacturers, PI has developed a product portfolio that includes a wide range of sample holders. The new "Microscope Stage Configurator" system overview explains how to combine individual sub-systems.

High Stability Motorized Stages for Long Travel Ranges with a wide Dynamic Range

PI offers two basic motorized long travel XY stage designs and one manual XY stage. Both the U-780 XY stage (up to 135x95mm) and U-760 XY (25x25mm) are based on low profile, self-clamping, direct-drive ceramic motors that use ultrasonic piezo technology. This drive technology achieves a very wide, vibration-free dynamic range from micrometers/second to 100mm/second.  At rest the motors are self-clamping, providing exceptional stability for long term imaging.

The U-780 stage is available for the Nikon Eclipse Ti / Ti2, the Leica DMI6000 / DMI8 microscope and the IX, IX2, and IX3 microscope from Olympus (here with 100x75mm travel).

The smaller U-760 stage (25x25mm travel) is compatible to the above mentioned inverted microscopes from Nikon and Olympus. Both stages (U-780 and U-760) are offered with a suitable controller (C-867.2U2) and a USB joystick.

Manual Sample Positioning Stages / Prepositioning

The M-545 manual XY stage provides 1 micron resolution with integrated micrometer screws.  It can be combined with piezo flexure nanopositioning / scanning stages for XY/Z or Z motion with nanometer resolution and travel ranges of 200µm.

Its low profile of only 30mm (1.2”) makes it compatible with a large number of inverted microscopes from leading manufacturers.

Product / SpecificationsU-780U-760M-545
Travel range135 x 85 mm (DNS and DLS types)
100 x 75 mm (DOS type)
25 × 25 mm25 × 25 mm
VelocityTo 120 mm/sTo 100 mm/s----
Accuracy± 250 nm (bidirectional repeatability)±0.5 µm----
Encoder Resolution100 nm10nm----
Drive technologyPILine® ultrasonic motorPILine® ultrasonic motorManual, with micrometer screws
Compatibility to microscopesOlympus IX, IX2, IX3 (U-780.DOS type)
Leica DMI6000, DMI8 (U-780.DLS type)
Nikon Eclipse Ti, Ti2 (U-780.DNS type)
Other stands (other manufacturers) on request
Nikon Eclipse Ti, Ti2
Olympus IX, IX2, IX3
Other stands (other manufacturers) on request
Nikon Eclipse Ti, Ti2 (M-545.MN type)
Olympus IX, IX2, IX3 (M-545.MO type)
Leica DMI6000, DMI8 (M-545.ML type)
Zeiss Axio Observer (M-545.MZ type)


Table: Compatibility and basic specification of several XY microscopy stages from PI

Both the U-780 and U-760 motorized XY stages provide sub-micrometer resolution. This is more than adequate for most research projects based on confocal microscopes, but various techniques for high-resolution microscopy ("super-resolution") demand precision significantly better than 100 nanometers.

Piezo Nanopositioning / Scanning Stages

PI offers a variety of piezo nanopositioning / scanning stages that integrate with the motorized XY stages.  For example, the P-545 PInano® or the P-541 piezo nanopositioning are available in various configurations to provide XY and XYZ motion with nanometer and sub-nanometer resolution. 

Z Positioning / Vertical Nanopositioning Stages: Move the Sample or Move the Objective

Many microscopy techniques require precise and controlled movement of the sample in the Z direction (i.e. the optical axis of the microscope). Often, resolution and accuracy below 100 nanometers are needed. PI offers Z stages that can be mounted on the long-travel XY stages which are suitable for most leading microscope models and compatible with a variety of sample holders.

Alternatively, the microscope objective can be moved vertically. PI offers a large variety of fast focus drives based on piezo technology (PIFOC® family). Based on the applications, different parameters such as positioning accuracy, travel ranges, and dynamics determine which model is right. An overview of the PIFOC objective scanners can be found here.

Specimen Holders

The range of suitable sample holders is as varied as the experiments and routine examinations in laboratories. PI offers a complete portfolio of universal holders, holders for micro well plates, petri dishes, and slide holders, designed to be easily installed on our motorized stages and piezo nanopositioning stages.

What Fits Where? Combining it Right!

The "Microscope Stage Configurator" shows the complete portfolio for inverted microscopes of long-travel XY stages, nanopositioners, and sample holders.

You can access all product overview pages using the web version of the flyer. There, you can find detailed specifications on accuracies, travel ranges, velocities, and much more as well as the technical drawings with the actual dimensions.

Nanopositioning for Microscopy catalog

Version / Date
pdf - 8 MB

Microscope Stage Configurator

Sample Stages and Holders for Inverted Microscopes

Version / Date
pdf - 4 MB

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