About the LMCF

Light Microscopy Core Facility

Capabilities of the LMCF (click for PDF)

The Light Microscopy Core Facility (LMCF) offers a wide range of confocal and conventional fluorescence microscopes and image analysis resources. As a centrally funded shared resource, the core’s aim is to offer affordable and efficient access to standard and advanced imaging instrumentation for users of all levels of experience and from any discipline across the Duke University and the Duke Medical Center campuses.

In the spring of 2018, the LMCF will also open a new Advanced Light Imaging User Facility featuring cutting-edge optical imaging technology that is beyond the reach of commercial instruments.


The LMCF is housed in over 2600 square feet of space located in four clusters across the research campus to facilitate easy access to the microscopy resources. Each of the four clusters has at least one confocal microscope, one conventional fluorescence microscope, one microscope with incubation capabilities, one incubator for temporary sample storage, and one image analysis workstation. All locations and resources are open to everybody at Duke. The facility is heavily used by many labs from across Duke. Since beginning operation LMCF has been used over 66,000 times by over 2200 users from over 480 labs across all research departments totaling over 170,000 hours of use.


The facility has a range of microscopes and related systems that offer a wide array of capabilities. If you have a sample that fluoresesces or interacts with light in some way, we can probably image it or extract information from it.

LMCF can help with live cells, fixed samples, model organisms, small animals, single molecules or at most points in between. Details of the exact capabilties are below but if you have any doubt or questions as to the best way to proceed with your project please contact us.

  • Fluorescence imaging of a huge range of samples
  • Different modalities for different specimens - Widefield, scanning confocal, 2 Photon, spinning disk confocal, TIRF
  • Filters/excitation for virtually all fluorophores (eg dapi, all fluorescent proteins, Alexa Fluors, CY dyes, NIR dyes)
  • Laser lines available: 351 364 405 458 477 488 496 514 543 561 568 594 633 647 690-1080 nm.
  • Transmitted light imaging
  • DIC, phase contrast, brightfield, darkfield, polarized light
  • Colour IHC imaging (eg H&E staining)
  • Imaging large range of sample sizes
  • From macroscopic samples on the stereoscope . . .
  • To samples requiring 100x objectives on a widefield or confocal
  • Single molecule imaging on TIRF
  • Live-cell imaging
  • Temperature, humidity and CO2 regulation on widefield fluorescence, TIRF and confocal microscopes
  • High-speed resonant scanner for rapid less damaging confocal aquisition
  • High-sensitivity EM-CCD camera (95% efficiency) on widefield and TIRF systems
  • Time lapse, including multiposition time lapse
  • Long-term time lapse (eg multiple days) available on the VivaView incubator microscope
  • FRAP, FLIP, Photoactivation/conversion
  • Measure protein dynamics in living cells
  • Point scanning confocals convenient for defined regions with slower processes
  • Point activation/bleaching on the DeltaVison widefield system for ultra fast/sensitive experiments
  • FCS is available on the 780 confocal
  • FRET
  • Sensitized emission and acceptor photobleaching
  • Possible on confocal and widefield systems
  • Ratiometric CFP/YFP FRET reporter imaging
  • Lifetime measurements on TCSPC FLIM system
  • High-throughput microscopy
  • Plate format acquisition capability on an inverted microscope with motorized stage
  • Image processing, analysis and quantification
  • Measurement of object intensity, size, number etc
  • Object tracking in 2D and 3D
  • 3D measurements and rendering
  • Deconvolution - Huygens and DeltaVision Softworx

If there are other techniques or capabilities not mentioned here that interest you, please contact Lisa Cameron as it may be possible to add them to the facility if there is sufficient interest.

Related capabilities available elsewhere at Duke

History of the Facility

LMCF was initially formed from several departmental microscope resources in the LSRC. The Department of Biology and the Department of Pharmacology & Cancer Biology teamed up, along with the then Comprehensive Cancer Center's Confocal Microscopy Shared Resource, to hire a Director in 2006 to establish and run a cooperative microscope facility for the two departments.

The facility received substantial funding from the Office of the Provost and the Dean of the Medical School in 2007 to purchase new equipment and become a resource for the entire Duke community. The facility remains a Duke Cancer Institute Shared Resource. In 2011 systems previously run as a resource for the Cell Biology department where incorporated into LMCF.