Please read the facility policy and contact CMIF to set up an appointment.

The Zeiss LSM 880 with Airyscan is the latest and most advanced model in the Zeiss LSM series of confocal laser scanning microscopes. Our configuration includes a 32 channel linear detector for spectral analysis and a 32 channel area detector (Airyscan) for point spread function modulation to increase S/N and x, y, z resolution (1.7 fold). In addition our system features a beamshaper for the fast Airyscan mode which lets us acquire images 4 times faster with minor loss in spatial resolution. Both 32-channel detectors employ GaAsP detectors that are twice as quantum efficient as the traditional photo multiplier tubes. Modules for advanced confocal applications such as Fluorescence Energy Transfer (FRET), colocalization analysis, and Recovery After Photobleaching (FRAP) are available as well as advanced options for tiling and stitching and experimental design and automation. Funding was provided in part by the National Science Foundation (DBI-1624613) and the NCSU Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

Image & Video Gallery

See confocal workstation gallery page

Laser Lines for Excitation

Emission Windows

They can be flexibly selected with 2 flanking photomultiplier (pmt) channels and a 32 channel GaAsP detector array. The system can be opperated in lambda mode with up to 34 spectral detectors that collect the entire wavelength range in one scan or in channel mode with up to 10 simultaneously active detection channels that can be set as needed.

Differential Interference Contrast Images

Differential interference contrast images can be acquired simultaneously and DIC prisms are available for all objectives except 10x.


The Airyscan is a 32 channel area GaAsP detector that can be used to improve spatial resolution and signal to noise ratio.  In super-resolution mode emission light through a pin hole (set at 1.25 AU) is spread over a 32-channel honeycomb detector, each channel simultaneously capturing a different position of the point spread function. After remapping and a deconvolution step the spatial resolution in x, y and z increases 1.7 fold. The S/N improves 4-8 fold. The beamshaper for the fast airyscan mode uses 16 elements of the area detector and illuminates 4 points (in the y-axis) silmultaneously which speads up image aqucisition 4 fold. This comes at a small cost in resolution and S/N compared to the regular airyscan mode but still has a 1.5x better resolution and 4x better S/N than the regular confocal mode. Zeiss has produced in partnership with Bitesize webinars that give a detailed explanation on how the airyscan works and the advantages of the fast airyscan module.

Microscope and Accessories

The scanhead is attached to a Zeiss Axio Observer Z1 inverted microscope with motorized, programmable x,y,z stage, additional piezo z-stage, joystick and touch panel docking control station. A definite focus (Version 2) attachment corrects for focus drifts during overnight time lapse experiments. Temperature and CO2 control chambers are available.


MagnificationN.A. ImmersionTypeNotes
10x0.45 dryPlan-Apochromat
20x0.8 dryPlan-Apochromat
40x1.1 WC-Apochomatlong working distance
40x1.2 WC-Apochromatairyscan
63x1.4 oilPlan-Apochromatairyscan

Additional Resources

Check out the Zeiss educational site to learn more about objective specifications. More information about the instrument can be found on the Zeiss webpage.

Reservation and Rules

Once approved to use the Zeiss LSM 880 Airyscan confocal independently you can reserve time online by visiting the NC State Lab Management portal. Log in with your unity credentials. Navigate to CMIF and select Zeiss LSM 880. Be aware that the time allowed per appointment and number of appointments may be restricted when the resource is in high demand.  Appointments can be canceled without charge 24 h before start time. If you need to cancel at shorter notice please send an email notification to CMIF. You may be charged for the time reserved during peak time (9am to 5pm).

Please note: The last person signed up for the day is responsible for powering the system off. If you are the last person on the schedule and do not need to use the confocal you still have to come in to switch the system off or find someone else to do it. If you ask someone by email make sure you receive confirmation. Leaving the confocal on overnight will result in a $50 fine.