openFrame: an open source approach to fluorescence microscopy

We are developing an open microscopy hardware platform that aims to enable modular, upgradeable and easily maintained microscope systems to be assembled rapidly using a core modular microscope frame with add-on modules such as excitation couplers or illuminators and camera systems that can be implemented using widely available commercial components and systems. We intend this microscopy platform to be controlled using MicroManager and we will share our software as we develop it, as well as the CAD designs and component lists so that other researchers can easily replicate the instrumentation or adapt it to their requirements. 


‌The modular openFrame microscope platform was designed in a collaboration between the Photonics Group and Optomechanical Instrumentation Workshop in the Physics Department at Imperial College London, and Cairn Research Ltd. The computer-aided design (CAD) files for the first openFrame design were made by Simon Johnson at Imperial, where Frederik Görlitz implemented and tested the first prototype. The CAD files for the second (current) design were made by Frederik Görlitz and Callum Hollick at Cairn, with input and feedback from Sunil Kumar (who constructed and tested the prototype at Imperial), Paul French (Imperial) and Jeremy Graham (Cairn). Chris Dunsby, Martin Kehoe, Jonathan Lightley and Mark Neil from Imperial also contributed to the openFrame design. 

The most recent CAD files for core openFrame components and other openFrame resources can be downloaded from the openFrame GitHub repository for research groups to make their own openFrame components. Alternatively, these components can be purchased from Cairn Research Ltd

If you would like to see a components list for an easySTORM microscope implemented on an openFrame, please see the latest openFrame epifluorescence easySTORM parts list including ‌our openExcite illuminator, a camera port and an excitation source. This list includes motorised focus control components that have been tested on the system. 

We have also developed an optical autofocus hardware module: "openAF" that can be implemented on an openFrame-based microscope or adapted for other microscope frames. Resources to support the implementation of this optical autofocus module can be downloaded from the openAF GitHub repository