Microscopy Facility

Harnessing advances in technology to enhance our rate of discovery.

Microscopes allow the human eye to examine minuscule things. Scientists use them to explore the building blocks of life, hunting for answers to our endless questions. As technology progresses, microscopes are revealing information previously beyond our reach, shifting the scientific frontier.

Higher clarity, faster speed, and longer observational windows allow for deeper probing into the fundamental processes that make things tick. It opens the door to new questions and ultimately, new discoveries.

Discovery, at the frontier of science, is central to the work conducted at IMB. Translating findings into disease application in the shortest possible time is a clear objective. As such, we harness advances in technology to hasten our rate of discovery.

Our Microscopy Facility is always evolving to remain at the forefront of scientific capability.

The Lattice Light Sheet – clearer, faster, longer 

In 2017 IMB will acquire a Lattice Light Sheet Microscope, invented by Nobel Prize winner Eric Betzig.

The capability of this microscope was unattainable with previous technology. It combines high-resolution imaging capacity with super fast imaging speed but does not damage the cells. It allows for long exposure time without loss of clarity, which means that researchers can make detailed movies of processes under observation over extended periods, taking their understanding to a deeper level.  

There are only three other Lattice Light Sheet Microscopes in Australia and only a handful in the world.

“For the first time we will be able to see the behaviour of cells and organisms in real time at high resolution. Previous microscopes damage the cells, but the Lattice Light Sheet does not, so we will also be able to watch generations of cells over several days giving comprehensive insights into their behaviour.

“We will observe the impact of drugs on cells and disease-causing mutations on cells very quickly and accurately. This technology will greatly enhance our understanding of cells normal behaviour and our understanding of diseases like cancer and inflammation. It will also accelerate research into treatments.” Professor Jenny Stow, Leader The Stow Group - Protein Trafficking and Inflammation.  

Leica STED 3X Super Resolution Microscope

Also on order for early 2017 delivery is the Leica STED 3X Super Resolution Microscope, which provides multicolour super-resolution imaging of cells. It will be the only microscope of its type in Queensland capable of resolving the interactions between single molecules within a living cell in real time.

“The STED microscope allows us to look at cells with ultra high magnification in three dimensions. We can reconstruct cancer tissues or small animals, like fish or fly’s, in 3D. It gives us a whole new way to look at cells in health and in disease.” Professor Jenny Stow, Leader The Stow Group - Protein Trafficking and Inflammation.   


From the basics to the best and everything in between

The IMB Microscopy facility built in 2009 is a world-leading example of technology designed for discovery. It has continued to evolve, as have the questions it is set up to help answer. The facility has a significant and wide-ranging capability, with technology that is programmed specifically for the needs of the 30 research teams that utilise it. Researchers can perform multiple experiments within one facility, leaving no stone unturned.

“Quote... the breadth and quantity of equipment in the facility generally is amazing and it is so beneficial to our research for these reasons...” Rohan TeasdaleExplore our range of hardware.

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) Cluster

Taking the images is only half the job. The Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research has awarded a joint infrastructure grant to IMB, QBI, CMM and the RCC to purchase what will be the largest GPU cluster in Australia, if not the southern hemisphere.  This cluster will allow extremely high speed image processing of the massive datasets produced by the lattice lightsheet and other imaging platforms at IMB and UQ.  Processing that would normally take days will take minutes with this new hardware.

Computing and microscopes are intimately tied – you can’t have one without the other. To keep up with the advances in laser microscopes, we also need advanced computing capability to process the data.

“The imaging from the Lattice Light Sheet allows us to collect and record an enormous amount of data – the equivalent to half the entire iTunes library per fortnight. We can look at hundreds and thousands of cells...instead of one.

“With so many examples of what cells are doing, we can harness the power of computing to analyse and build models of the data. Eventually this will replace long expensive experiments and help us to predict cell behaviour.” Professor Jenny Stow, Leader The Stow Group - Protein Trafficking and Inflammation.   

Explore our range of software.

Higher Capacity

Less time waiting for access to technology means more time for discovery. Our equipment list is abundant, with the facility housing 25 high-end microscopes.  For example, we have six point scanning confocal microscopes, a rare concentration for such complex equipment in one location.

Explore our range of hardware.

External Users

We encourage external groups to use our equipment. We offer training and induction. We also have highly trained staff that can perform the imaging for you.

Monday to Friday: 9 am to 5 pm

Charged at an hourly rate.

Book online or contact us.


This facility helps to discovery amazing things.

View recent publications.


The equipment in this facility was purchased with the support of an ARC LEIF grant and an ACRF grant.