General points to note

  • Centre equipment is available for use by college staff and students
  • Non-Imperial people may be able to use the equipment subject to availability; please get in touch if you are interested
  • All users must be trained before using Centre equipment. First-time users, please get in contact with facility staff to arrange training
  • Usage of the three-photon and Tissuecyte is logged by time; hourly charges apply for both
  • Use of other equipment is usually not chargeable


  • The three-photon microscope and Tissuecyte must be booked via the PPMS system. You must register on PPMS to be able to book.
  • Use of the three-photon or Tissucyte facility is only allowed after personal training (needed for each piece of equipment)
  • all use must be booked in advance online
  • if you need to change your booking, please do this as soon as possible to allow other people to use the equipment
  • There are no limits to booking outside peak hours, but users must have lone working permission and autonomous user rights (not available for Master's or UG students). Facility staff can restrict bookings to allow other users access to the facilities if needed.
  • Please note, rules may change at short notice during busy periods.


Current rates for use of the three-photon and Tissuecyte facilities for Imperial College internal users can be found on our charges and booking page.

To keep usage and charging up to date, the PPMS software automatically logs real-time usage of each equipment and internally updates the data. Real-time usage data are only used by facility staff for recharging purposes , they are not accessible to other people outside the facility. Only summarised data are handed over to finance administration and other members of the lab. However, each user can check their logged time within the PPMS software.

If you book time but do not show up, you will still be charged. To avoid this, you can cancel your session before the start if needed, or you can cancel the remaining session while the session is active. An alert can be set when other users cancel a session and the session can be exported to a calendar app to set a reminder.

If any equipment is not functional, please report this to facility staff - you won’t be charged if the equipment is not working.


Use of facility equipment is only allowed after personal training, no matter how experienced you are. This includes not just technical training, but also an introduction to facility rules, health and safety, and other important issues, and therefore is strictly compulsory.

Please follow these steps to arrange training:

  1. Register on PPMS (see Booking)
  2. Request training on PPMS and provide an account code for recharging. You can also send an email to Ann Go, or Nawal Zabouri, with a short description of your planned experiment.
  3. We will contact you to arrange a time and date. We can help in planning the experiment and choosing the correct equipment.
  4. The required microscope is then booked. When using the microscope you must provide a grant code for payment; unless you have your own lab or grant, please make sure your supervisor is ready to cover the usage charges. 
  5. Prepare your samples. This is required because training will be done with your own samples on the correct microscope. The next time you use the facilities, you can just continue on from your last visit.
  6. We will provide you with a short introduction into the facility, and then detailed explanations on how to set everything up specifically for your own sample.

This process makes training efficient and ensures that you are confident the next time you do imaging on your own.

Health and safety

Lone working

The three-photon and Tissuecyte facilities are part of the Department of Bioengineering. Normal access hours are between 07.00 and 19.00. For access at different times i.e. between 19.00 and 23.00 Mon - Fri, at weekends, and on Bank Holidays, the Bioengineering Lone Working policy applies and authorisation must be obtained. Pleae contact the relevant facility manager for details.

Access between 23.00 and 07.00 and on College closure days will only be authorised in few exceptional circumstances, please see details of the College requirement on the College website.


The Imperial emergency number is 4444 (security will organise an ambulance or any other help needed). In case of a laser emergency, contact security (4444) to arrange immediate transport to the Western Eye Hospital in Marylebone Road (NW1 5QH).

A first aid kit is available in room B532.

Biological safety

All microscope rooms at present are classified as laboratories of the lowest biosafety level, containment level 1, so only qualify for low-risk cell lines and organisms. It is each user's responsibility to make sure their samples fall into this category.

For more information on biological safety and containment levels, see the Approved List of Biological Agents (including classification) on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website. Some information is also on Imperial's Biological Safety website.

All users should be aware of the fact that even fixed samples are still biological material with a residual risk, and also several of the chemicals used for sample preparation are carcinogenic or otherwise unhealthy, like formaldehyde, all nuclear stains, sodium azide, amongst others. Therefore, as in any lab, all equipment should be regarded as potentially contaminated. No eating or drinking is allowed in the facility.

Laser safety

Lasers are generally enclosed and don't pose a special hazard to users unless reflected from the sample. Nevertheless, a laser safety training course is necessary.

Data and network

Network policy and virus protection

To avoid data loss and downtime of the microscopes, users are asked to do everything to avoid infection of the microscope computers with viruses, malware, and trojans.

Specifically, users are required to stick strictly to the following policy:

  • Users are not allowed to install any software without permission
  • You can browse the internet to look up microscopy-relevant information, scientific publications, news and radio programs, but do not browse or download files from any suspicious websites

Data management

Facility users are solely responsible for their own data. At acquisition, all data are stored on local microscope hard drives. Facility users are responsible for saving their own data at the end of each experiment to their own storage and deleting them from our hard drives.

Acknowledging Centre facilities in publications

Our equipment is funded primarily from funding councils, who require us to acknowledge their funding in publications. If you use Centre equipment, please therefore acknowledge our funders as below:

  • Three-photon microscopy facility: Wellcome Trust grant 221522/Z/20/Z
  • Tissuecyte facility: EPSRC grant EP/J021199/1
  • Equipment from the non-invasive brain stimulation facility: EPSRC grant EP/J021199/1

Please let our Centre Manager know about your publications, or any other outputs that include data generated using our facilities, for our records, and so we can help promote your work! Thank you.