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Micromanipulators

Micromanipulator

A micromanipulator is essentially a piece of equipment used to interact and manipulate a sample under a microscope. They are used where the movements needed are on such a small scale as to be impossible for the human hand to do. Micromanipulators are used across a number of scientific disciplines including the life sciences, engineering and physics. The actual applications of micromanipulators in the various processes they can be used for vary greatly. In some situations they are essential in others they can be a useful addition and in some they can even be somewhat of a luxury that can be replaced by a more cost effective piece of equipment.

There are many different types of micromanipulator on the market including motorised and manual systems. MCI are able to provide both and have a great deal of experience in building, maintaining and supplying them.

MCI Micromanipulators

Our CleverArm Motorised Micromanipulator integrates elements of well-proven technology to provide an exceptionally stable, reliable and user friendly manipulator, packed full of useful features for the electrophysiologist.

The EasyArm is the ideal solution for applications which don’t require motorisation, allowing for fine manual control and easy mounting options.

What Are The Basic Parts of a Micromanipulator?

Control Interface and Movement

This part is made up of hardware as well as computer software that the operator uses to get the required level of movement and control. In addition to the actual movement involved in the unit itself there can be external software and remote control interface equipment. The software can allow the user to programme in movements remotely using electrically controlled remote interfaces. As well as electronic movement there are also hydraulic options available for even more control as well as wireless interface systems.

Actuators

The movement itself is controlled by actuators. These devices allow digital or mechanical force to be converted into a rotary motion. There are 4 main types of Acuators found in micromanipulators

  • Peizo Acuators
  • Hydraulic Drums
  • Stepper Motors
  • Micrometers/Fine-Thread precision screws (for manual micromanipulators)

Stage

Every actuator is part of or, in fact, attached to a micromanipulator stage. The stage is basically working in a similar way to the actuator in that it has fixed and moving parts. The fixed part remains in the same position while the moving part can move forwards and backwards. The fixed part of the actuator and the stage are both attached so stages moves through it’s associated actuator.  For the most part the stage is made from aluminium but in some cases the metal is not suitable and has to be treated using surface modification treatments. There are a number of other factors involved in the materials and electronics used in micromanipulators for certain conditions and this is looked at in more detail here  along with many other aspects.

 Resolution

In optical terms the word resolution means the minimum distance between to distinguishable points. This term, however, means something different when it comes to micromanipulators and micromotion. When looking at buying this kind of equipment the term resolution is used to describe the smallest distance distinguishable between two points in movement. This level of movement can be measured by a super-resolution microscope or a interferometer.

When looking at electrically driven tools the resolution is used to show how smooth the movements are. Something with a lower resolution will not move as smoothly as a micromanipulator with a high resolution. The lower the resolution the more likely the actual movement steps would be detected under a microscope. This can have an effect on how easy the machine is to use.

Resolution also has a bearing on how easy it is to actually hit the target point with the probe correctly. Put simply is the target is 1 micrometer away and the resolution of the micromanipulator is 2 micrometers then moving just 1 micron may prove very hard.

In many micromanipulators there is a fine and course movement option. Where this is stated the fine movement would have a higher resolution.

Get In Touch

If you would like to discuss the applications, costs or any other points about our micromanipulators please get in touch with our team today. We supply labs across the world with a huge range of neuroscience equipment and we pride ourselves on not only great products but great service too. If you are working on a grant application our team would be happy to help with a quote.