Keck In Situ Underwater Microscope

2016-03-04 17.19.10Sponsors: W. M. Keck Foundation

Project Overview:

There is a great need in microscopy and especially in situ, underwater microscopy to study behavior and interactions of organisms in a their natural fluid environment. This precludes the use of traditional microscopy techniques that prepare specimens on a slide or image z-stacks through immobilized 3D volumes. To address some of these limitations the Keck In Situ Underwater Microscope  was designed to record video of a 3D volume (a cubic centimeter for example) with sufficient resolution for taxa identification and 3D localization with resolution on the order of microns.

General Information:

The system is designed around a set of four folded optical paths wrapped around a central flow chamber. At one end of the flow chamber four optical ports arranged 90 degrees relative to each other provide either an illumination port or an imaging port. Illumination and imaging paths are multiplexed using beamsplitters/beamcombiners to allow up to three distinct image or illumination modalities through one view port. The optics and electronics are housed in a large aluminum tube with doughnut end caps that seal around the central flow chamber. At each end, a programmable shutter allows the chamber to be sealed off to prevent flow in and out of the chamber while imaging.


  • Principal Investigators: Jules S. Jaffe, Peter J. S. Franks, David Kreigman
  • Principal Engineers: Paul L. D. Roberts, Ben Laxton
  • Development Engineers: Devin Ratelle
  • Graduate Students: Zachary Murez, Jessica Garwood, Andy Mullen







Videos and Data:

Solid Model of the Housing and some Internal components (Optics Excluded):