Modular Microscope

The openFrame is a new and highly versatile inverted microscope frame from Cairn Research. Conceived and co-developed in collaboration with the Photonics Group at Imperial College London, the openFrame brings affordable and compact high-performance microscopy imaging to users who previously relied on inflexible, single-application instruments.

Consisting of a small number of versatile building blocks (Layers), many of which are open source, the openFrame platform is a flexible and future-proof microscopy solution. The openFrame microscope system offers the flexibility to add additional Layer Elements that can be inserted between the regular illumination and detection layers. These can either be additional illumination or detection layers, or serve as an ideal position to mount other components such as a motorised filter wheel or an image splitter. Primed with this ability, the openFrame system can be configured to fulfil your experimental needs now but can easily be reconfigured and expanded to suit your needs in the future.

Open sourced and self-assembled

Whilst Cairn Research have developed a range of professional turn-key modules for the openFrame, the academic links with the Imperial College group and the commitment to open source sustainability remain strong. Whether you are a research academic, an educator, or working with a start-up or established company, we want to work with you in the best possible way.

The openFrame is truly open to all. As an example, early systems have used microscope stages from over ten different companies; in addition to tube lenses, objectives, light sources and accessories from numerous other providers. Imperial College have published, and are continuing to publish fully open source versions of several of our commercial modules and we are happy to supply the building blocks for full self builds.  We would however encourage a hybrid model where you buy the professional workhorse layers that we have already optimised alongside empty layers for you to develop your own designs, which in turn could be open or proprietary. We will assemble 3D CAD models of your specific configuration and provide all the information to ensure that you can interface the openFrame for your needs, with expert advice on hand if required.

Every layer has industry-standard tube and cage mounts for 25, 32 or 50 mm optics. The central optical axis has a standard 50 mm (SM2) thread.  There is absolute flexibility to mount any optical component in any position, so schematics from scientific publications can be reproduced and adapted faithfully.  Alignment tools can be fitted to any port to ensure that your microscope is optimally aligned initially on installation and following any major reconfiguration or upheaval.

Demanding applications such as super-resolution imaging require a stable platform for high precision imaging: The openFrame system is designed to be free of internal thermal drift and allows all switchable optical elements to be aligned independently to ensure zero-pixel shift.