Zeiss Axio Observer

The Ziess live cell Axio Observer is an inverted modular microscope that allows for flexible and automated experimental design and is suitable for live cell imaging.


The Axio Observer system is suitable for both labelled and label-free samples.

It is compatible with a variety of sample chambers, including:

  • two to eight well chamber slides
  • petri dishes
  • multi-well plates

This microscope will provide scientists with the ability to create an optimal environment to image samples from living cells to fixed tissues.

Examples of work
  • Zeiss Axio Observer microscope set up
    The Zeiss Axio Observer microscope at the Institute
  • Lung stem cells undergoing replication
    Embryonic lab-grown lung stem cells, with proteins of interest marked in yellow and blue. Brighter yellow cells are undergoing cellular replication. Credit: Casey Ah-Cann
  • Microscopy image of colon cancer cells
    Colon cancer cells that have been treated with SN-38, an anti­-cancer drug. The drug works by blocking the building of DNA, effectively preventing cancer cells from growing. Credit: Karl Leuchowius
  • Four images of cells in a dish
    All four images are of embryonic blastocysts that are growing in a dish, with cell mass surrounded and protected by the zona pellucida. The top two images show normal development with the blastocyst cavity forming, but the bottom two images show that cells have proliferated and compacted but the blastocyst is not developing correctly. Credit: Karen Doggett


Objective magnification 5x 10x 20x 40x 63x 100x
Immersion media Air Air Air Water Oil Oil
XY-resolution (µm) 2.22 0.74 0.42 0.28 0.24 0.24
Working distance (mm) 12 2.0 0.55 0.28 0.19 0.17
NA 0.15 0.45 0.8 1.2 1.4 1.4

Light sources 

  • LED Illumination: 420nm, 470 nm, 555 nm and 625 nm
  • Illuminator HXP 120 V (DAPI, GFP, CY3, Texas Red and Cy5 nominal filter sets
  • Bright field illumination (Phase contrast and DIC)

Detection source

  • PCO.Edge sCMOS 16-bit camera

Technological specifications (capabilities)

Available modalities

  • Z-stack
  • Time-series
  • Tile scan
  • Multi positions

Additional hardware

  • Definite focus
  • Open application development for automated workflow

Unique features

Open application development allowing for modular, automated workflows.


  • Limited 3D resolution
  • Poor signal-to-noise ratio in brightly labelled samples
  • Photobleaching


The purchase of this microscope was supported by the Harold & Cora Brennen Benevolent Trust and the Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation.