DYNAMIC
TEMPERATURE
CONTROL

Microscopic temperature control of your sample volume for high-resolution optical microscopy. Just set the temperature and start your measurement. Let VAHEAT do the rest.

Key Features

VAHEAT is a precise temperature control unit for optical microscopes. It combines local heating with direct temperature sensing in the sample volume. This allows for fast and precise temperature adjustment with heating rates up to 100°C/s while maintaining highest temperature precision. Made for investigations of temperature-sensitive processes in life sciences and material research.

Temperature stability of 0.01°C (rms)
Extended temperature range up to 200 °C
Superb Imaging Quality

Extreme temperature stability on long (hours to days) and short (seconds to minutes) time scales down to 0.01°C (rms). External temperature variations due to air flow, fluid exchange etc. will be detected and compensated via direct temperature feedback inside the sample volume.

Fast and reliable - made for oil immersion systems
4 Heating Modes
Mechanical stability and device compatibility
Temperature stability of 0.01°C (rms)
Extended temperature range up to 200 °C
Superb Imaging Quality

Extend your experimental temperature range to 100°C (standard range) or even up to 200°C (extended range) depending on your experimental needs. The standard range version is compatible with oil-immersion systems while the extended range version can be operated with air objectives.

Fast and reliable - made for oil immersion systems
4 Heating Modes
Mechanical stability and device compatibility
Temperature stability of 0.01°C (rms)
Extended temperature range up to 200 °C
Superb Imaging Quality

No optical aberration up to 80 °C with the highest numerical aperture objectives on the market. Perfectly suited for single molecule and super resolution studies using state-of- the-art methods (STORM, STED, TIRF, etc.). For more see Technical Performance.

Fast and reliable - made for oil immersion systems
4 Heating Modes
Mechanical stability and device compatibility
Temperature stability of 0.01°C (rms)
Extended temperature range up to 200 °C
Superb Imaging Quality
Fast and reliable - made for oil immersion systems
4 Heating Modes
Mechanical stability and device compatibility

VAHEAT lets you control the temperature inside the field of view independently from the type of microscope objective or the objective’s temperature. The system is designed as standalone unit without the need for any additional modifications to the optical setup (e.g objective heater) in order to avoid a temperature sink in your field of view. Additionally, the specific design of our smart substrates ensures that the objective’s performance is not altered even at higher temperatures.

Temperature stability of 0.01°C (rms)
Extended temperature range up to 200 °C
Superb Imaging Quality
Fast and reliable - made for oil immersion systems
4 Heating Modes
Mechanical stability and device compatibility

VAHEAT is equipped with four heating modes for different experiments depending on your needs. Modes for fast heating, auto-compensated heating, or well-defined temperature profiles are available.

Temperature stability of 0.01°C (rms)
Extended temperature range up to 200 °C
Superb Imaging Quality
Fast and reliable - made for oil immersion systems
4 Heating Modes
Mechanical stability and device compatibility

No thermal drifts or vibrations even at elevated temperature allow precise single molecule localization. We designed VAHEAT to be compatible with all commercial microscopes. No further modifications of your setup are needed. Its fast thermal response allows for nearly instantaneous thermalization tremendously reducing the waiting times as usual with conventional heating systems.

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Temperature stability of 0.01°C (rms)
Extended temperature range up to 200 °C

Extreme temperature stability on long (hours to days) and short (seconds to minutes) time scales down to 0.01°C (rms). External temperature variations due to air flow, fluid exchange etc. will be detected and compensated via direct temperature feedback inside the sample volume.

Superb Imaging Quality
Fast and reliable - made for oil immersion systems
4 Heating Modes
Mechanical stability and device compatibility
Temperature stability of 0.01°C (rms)
Extended temperature range up to 200 °C

Extend your experimental temperature range to 100°C (standard range) or even up to 200°C (extended range) depending on your experimental needs. The standard range version is compatible with oil-immersion systems while the extended range version can be operated with air objectives.

Superb Imaging Quality
Fast and reliable - made for oil immersion systems
4 Heating Modes
Mechanical stability and device compatibility
Temperature stability of 0.01°C (rms)
Extended temperature range up to 200 °C
Superb Imaging Quality
Fast and reliable - made for oil immersion systems

No optical aberration up to 80 °C with the highest numerical aperture objectives on the market. Perfectly suited for single molecule and super resolution studies using state-of- the-art methods (STORM, STED, TIRF, etc.). For more see Technical Performance.

4 Heating Modes
Mechanical stability and device compatibility
Temperature stability of 0.01°C (rms)
Extended temperature range up to 200 °C
Superb Imaging Quality
Fast and reliable - made for oil immersion systems

VAHEAT lets you control the temperature inside the field of view independently from the type of microscope objective or the objective’s temperature. The system is designed as standalone unit without the need for any additional modifications to the optical setup (e.g objective heater) in order to avoid a temperature sink in your field of view. Additionally, the specific design of our smart substrates ensures that the objective’s performance is not altered even at higher temperatures.

4 Heating Modes
Mechanical stability and device compatibility
Temperature stability of 0.01°C (rms)
Extended temperature range up to 200 °C
Superb Imaging Quality
Fast and reliable - made for oil immersion systems
4 Heating Modes
Mechanical stability and device compatibility

VAHEAT is equipped with four heating modes for different experiments depending on your needs. Modes for fast heating, auto-compensated heating, or well-defined temperature profiles are available.

Temperature stability of 0.01°C (rms)
Extended temperature range up to 200 °C
Superb Imaging Quality
Fast and reliable - made for oil immersion systems
4 Heating Modes
Mechanical stability and device compatibility

No thermal drifts or vibrations even at elevated temperature allow precise single molecule localization. We designed VAHEAT to be compatible with all commercial microscopes. No further modifications of your setup are needed. Its fast thermal response allows for nearly instantaneous thermalization tremendously reducing the waiting times as usual with conventional heating systems.

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Components

Control Unit

The control unit is the interface between you and your sample temperature. It displays the current temperature and allows to easily adjust the temperature by turning a single knob. An USB interface grants remote control and synchronization of the system parameters with your image acquisition. Four heating modes are available to meet your specific needs.
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VAHEAT can be operated in four different modes that will ideally fit your experimental needs.

Smart Substrates

The smart substrates replace the conventional cover slips. The integrated heating element with the highly sensitive temperature sensor allows fast and precise temperature control inside the field of view without compromise on the imaging quality. The substrates are designed as multi-use disposable and come in three different options. The heated area is for all options 5 x 5 mm2. The surface facing your sample is glass and can be chemically functionalized.
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SmS
STANDARD RANGE

Dimension: 18x18x0.17 (± 0.05) mm³
Temp. range: RT - 105°C

The standard range smart substrates are optimized for high-resolution studies similar to #1.5 coverslips. They have a size of 18 x 18 mm² and a thickness of 170 µm. We specify their full functionality up to 100 °C with heating powers up to 2.5 W. The flat substrates are ideally suited to integrate a reservoir, study thin films or use an own design of a microfluidic chamber.

SmS-R
STANDARD RANGE WITH RESERVOIR

Dimension: 18x18x0.17 (± 0.05) mm³
Temp. range: RT - 105°C
Volume: 100 - 600 µL

The smart substrates equipped with a reservoir made of silicone are meant for investigating liquid samples of a maximal volume of 600 µL. All materials used are non-cytotoxic and meet the highest standards for live-cell imaging. The SmS-R are suited for micro stage top incubation. Upon request we can provide additional glass slides for sealing the reservoir.

SmS-E
EXTENDED RANGE

Dimension: 18x18x0.5 mm³
Temp. range: RT - 200°C

The extended range smart substrates are made for temperatures up to 200 °C. They are 500 µm thick, similar to #5 coverslips and are compatible with the extended range control unit.

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SmS
STANDARD RANGE

Dimension: 18x18x0.17 (± 0.05) mm³
Temp. range: RT - 105°C

The standard range smart substrates are optimized for high-resolution studies similar to #1.5 coverslips. They have a size of 18 x 18 mm² and a thickness of 170 µm. We specify their full functionality up to 100 °C with heating powers up to 2.5 W. The flat substrates are ideally suited to integrate a reservoir, study thin films or use an own design of a microfluidic chamber.

SmS-R
STANDARD RANGE WITH RESERVOIR

Dimension: 18x18x0.17 (± 0.05) mm³
Temp. range: RT - 105°C
Volume: 100 - 600 µL

TThe smart substrates equipped with a reservoir made of silicone are meant for investigating liquid samples of a maximal volume of 600 µL. All materials used are non-cytotoxic and meet the highest standards for live-cell imaging. The SmS-R are suited for micro stage top incubation. Upon request we can provide additional glass slides for sealing the reservoir.

SmS-E
EXTENDED RANGE

Dimension: 18x18x0.5 mm³
Temp. range: RT - 200°C

The extended range smart substrates are made for temperatures up to 200 °C. They are 500 µm thick, similar to #5 coverslips and are compatible with the extended range control unit.

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Microscope Adapter

The heart of the VAHEAT system are the smart substrates that integrate a transparent thin film heating element with a highly sensitive temperature probe. The smart substrates with a heated area of 5 x 5 mm2 are inserted into the substrate holder that is connected to the control unit. As soon as the connector head establishes the connection between smart substrate and control unit, the temperature is being measured and you can start heating.

The microscope adapter fits into most of the common microscope stages due to its size of 75 mm x 25 mm (3” x 1”). Its slim design with a maximal height of 11 mm allows unrestricted access from above. The microscope adapter is thermally insulated from the heated area and stays at room temperature even for sample temperatures of 200 °C. Simply prepare your sample on the smart substrates, insert it into the microscope adapter and position it onto your translation stage to start your measurement. VAHEAT takes care of precise temperature control.

VAHEAT in microscope adapter

The User Interface​

The platform independent user interface (UI) allows to remotely control the VAHEAT device, program arbitrary temperature profiles and stream temperature data to the local hard disk. You can use it for precise and live control of sample temperature and current heating power. Simply connect the control unit via USB to the computer and start the measurement remotely.

This is what our customers think about VAHEAT

“We use the VAHEAT to bring low molecular weight polymers to temperatures just above their glass transition temperature to study molecular motions and dynamic heterogeneity at the single molecule level in these systems. The fact that the VAHEAT allows us to achieve and maintain the temperature control needed on a coverslip in turn allows us to simultaneously perform imaging with the highest numerical aperture objectives available, maximizing collection of photons and limiting localization error of fluorescent probes. This ability facilitates characterization of translational mobility in these complex systems.”

Prof. Laura Kaufman

Columbia University, New York City

“The instructions and equipment were very clear and intuitive to use. We very much enjoyed the magnets that lock components into place. In use, the temperature changed very rapidly according to the VAHEAT reading, though I allowed some extra time to equilibrate as my material is not very conductive. I need to carry out further analysis, but I am seeing what I expected to see in my results. The biggest advantage was indeed that I didn’t see any thermal drift: I didn’t need to refocus during my experiments, which is fantastic because I wanted to see fluorescence emission intensity in a single controlled plane. Overall, I think very highly of the VAHEAT and it was immensely helpful to me.”

Dr. Liz Birchall

University of Nottingham

VAHEAT allows precise and fast temperature control in our TIRF measurements where we are investigating switchable DNA origami mechanisms.“

Prof. Hendrik Dietz

TU Munich

“At the beginning I was a bit sceptical about the substrates. However, they can be cleaned and reused. We have tested several heating systems that can heat above 37°C. This one was by far our favourite.”

Dr. Kerstin Göpfrich

MPI for Medical Research, Heidelberg

“Thanks to VAHEAT, we were able to perform live imaging of cell divisions in thermophilic Archaea for the first time in our lab. Another application, where we successfully used the instrument was to capture the swimming behaviour of Sulfolobus.”

Dr. Marleen van Wolferen

University of Freiburg

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“We use the VAHEAT to bring low molecular weight polymers to temperatures just above their glass transition temperature to study molecular motions and dynamic heterogeneity at the single molecule level in these systems. The fact that the VAHEAT allows us to achieve and maintain the temperature control needed on a coverslip in turn allows us to simultaneously perform imaging with the highest numerical aperture objectives available, maximizing collection of photons and limiting localization error of fluorescent probes. This ability facilitates characterization of translational mobility in these complex systems.”

Prof. Laura Kaufman

Columbia University, New York City

“The instructions and equipment were very clear and intuitive to use. We very much enjoyed the magnets that lock components into place. In use, the temperature changed very rapidly according to the VAHEAT reading, though I allowed some extra time to equilibrate as my material is not very conductive. I need to carry out further analysis, but I am seeing what I expected to see in my results. The biggest advantage was indeed that I didn’t see any thermal drift: I didn’t need to refocus during my experiments, which is fantastic because I wanted to see fluorescence emission intensity in a single controlled plane. Overall, I think very highly of the VAHEAT and it was immensely helpful to me.”

Dr. Liz Birchall

University of Nottingham

VAHEAT allows precise and fast temperature control in our TIRF measurements where we are investigating switchable DNA origami mechanisms.“

Prof. Hendrik Dietz

TU Munich

“At the beginning I was a bit sceptical about the substrates. However, they can be cleaned and reused. We have tested several heating systems that can heat above 37°C. This one was by far our favourite.”

Dr. Kerstin Göpfrich

MPI for Medical Research, Heidelberg

“Thanks to VAHEAT, we were able to perform live imaging of cell divisions in thermophilic Archaea for the first time in our lab. Another application, where we successfully used the instrument was to capture the swimming behaviour of Sulfolobus.”

Dr. Marleen van Wolferen

University of Freiburg

Technical Performance

Compatible Imaging Techniques

Total internal reflection microscopy (TIRM)

Confocal microscopy

Interferometric scattering microscopy (iSCAT)

Atomic force microscopy (AFM)

Super resolution methods (SIM, STORM, PALM, PAINT, STED)

Widefield microscopy

Total internal reflection microscopy (TIRM)​

Confocal microscopy

Interferometric scattering microscopy (iSCAT)

Atomic force microscopy (AFM)

Super resolution methods (SIM, STORM, PALM, PAINT, STED)

Widefield microscopy

Application Examples​

Publications

Live imaging of thermophilic bacteria under confinement
Molinaro et al., 2021

Guillaume Baffou’s lab from Institut Fresnel used VAHEAT to image growing thermophilic bacteria at 60°C and 70°C under spatial confinement. They found out that what is good for E. coli does not necessarily satisfy other non-model organisms. Most aerobic bacteria need for successful growth more oxygen than is available in confined geometries. You can read the article in RSC Advances.

Live imaging of meiosis in yeast
Mengoli et al., 2021

Wolfgang Zachariae‘s lab from the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry used temperature-sensitive alleles in yeast to study chromosome separation during meiosis. Shifting yeast from 25°C to 37°C while simultaneously doing live cell imaging? Ideal application for our instrument!
Read the whole article in EMBO Journal.

Single-molecule TIRF measurements of DNA origami
Stömmer et al. 2021

The laboratory of Hendrik Dietz from Technical University Munich built a macromolecular transport system out of DNA origami. VAHEAT was used for precise temperature control in the single-molecule TIRF measurements. The article was published in Nature Communications.

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Videos

FAQs

Content

The VAHEAT system consists of five parts: The control unit, the microscope adapter, the probe head, the smart substrates, and the remote software (optionally).
Our smart substrates will replace your conventionally used cover slips. The smart substrates are special coverslips equipped with a heating element and a highly sensitive temperature probe. As they incorporate a sensor, we call them smart substrate.
VAHEAT controls the temperature of your sample volume (a few hundred microliter) locally with a highly sensitive feedback. This minimizes the overall heat load injected into your optical setup and simultaneously allows you to track and control the temperature in your FOV without worrying about temperature gradients or thermal drift. Our system is specifically designed for high- and super-resolution applications.
The microscope adapter has two detachable parts: The 75 x 25 mm sized plate and the magnetically attached connector with the cable connecting both parts with the control box. The smart substrates can be inserted or changed after detaching the connector from the plate.
Our customers include imaging facilities, independent research groups and industrial research departments studying live cells, biophysical systems, thin films, drugs and polymers. Have a look at our references to see what people think of VAHEAT. Also check out our application examples to get a better idea.
No! We specifically designed our system to be highly compact, versatile and simple to use. Do not worry about the temperature. Concentrate on you experiment!
The smart substrates are 18 x 18 mm2 and either 170 μm (standard range) or 500 μm (extended range) thick. The standard range smart substrates are optimized for high-resolution studies as #1.5 coverslips.
The VAHEAT system is available in two versions: The standard range version covering temperatures between room temperature and 100 °C. The extended range option covering temperatures of up to 300 °C.

The standard range version can issue heating powers up to 2.5 W and is working with smart substrates of 170 μm thickness (#1.5H) as required for high NA immersion microscope objectives. The high-temperature version can be operated with smart substrates of 500 μm thickness (#5) while allowing heating powers of up to 5.0 W.

Yes! You can operate the extended range VAHEAT system the same way as the standard range version. The standard range smart substrates should, however, not be operated above 100 °C as we cannot ensure their correct functionality at temperature above 100 °C. We strongly recommend using the appropriate extended range smart substrates for high temperatures.
The heated area is 5 x 5 mm2 in size. The heating element is made of a transparent, conductive material.
Yes! Due a specific combination of heat conductivities and direct temperature feedback from the sample volume the temperature can be precisely adjusted even if your objective touches the cover slip or if the temperature in your environment changes.
For thin films deposited on the VAHEAT smart substrates the heating rates can be as fast as 100 °C per second. For liquids, the heating is as fast as 40 °C per second.
You can arbitrarily adjust the heating rate. It will mostly depend on your temperature stability. Heating rates as low as 0.1 °C/h are programmable.
Currently, the VAHEAT system does not come with active cooling. However, cooling can be as fast as heating depending on attached heat loads and temperature difference between surrounding and sample volume. When investigating thin films, cooling rates can reach up to 40 °C/s.
The temperature on the smart substrates is controlled via an active feedback loop between the heating element and the sensor in your FOV. The temperature can be kept constant for hours to days with a precision of up to 0.01 °C (rms). You can also request high precision smart substrates with an absolute temperature accuracy of 0.1 °C.
No! VAHEAT was designed as a standalone device. No additional components are needed for temperature control. The integrated smart feedback system detects any small change in temperature and compensates for it within seconds.
Yes! The VAHEAT control unit with all of its functionality can be controlled by an optional software available for Windows, MacOS and Linux. The software allows you to design temperature profiles or stream temperature data to your local computer.
Yes! The microscope adapter of the VAHEAT system was designed to fit into any standard microscope slide holder as present in most microscopes independent of the manufacturer.
Yes! The smart substrates have dimensions of conventional coverslips with a thickness of 170 μm (#1.5 H) optimized for high resolution studies. The heating element integrated in the smart substrate is transparent with a transmission of more than 90 % in the visible spectrum. The substrate holder allows to come as close as necessary with high-NA immersion objectives.
Yes! The substrates have a size of 18×18 mm2 and a region of 16×18 mm2 is accessible from above. The microscope adapter has a thickness of 2.5 mm. For large liquid dipping objectives custom solutions might be necessary. We are happy to assist!

Yes! VAHEAT is compatible with vacuum chambers. You might require a specific cable feedthrough but there will be no outgassing when operating VAHEAT inside a vacuum chamber. Contact us if you need more information.

Yes! We specifically designed VAHEAT
for high- and super-resolution microscopy. The smart substrates have a thickness of 170 μm and are thus compatible with almost any commercially available high Numerical Aperture (NA) objective needed for super- resolution microscopy.
The conventional thermal problems that arise in super-resolution microscopy when working at elevated temperature are fully avoided when working with VAHEAT. We also measured the optical performance with a high NA objective as function of temperature. You can check out the data here.
You cannot believe this? Get a demo system and test it yourself!

Not at all. VAHEAT does not change your angle of incidence since the heat load injected into your optical system is kept minimal. Put into simple words: you only heat your sample. This way the optical performance of your imaging system is only minimally affected by temperature changes. This is different in conventional stage incubators: These devices require the objective to be heated. This induces stress and tension on the optics worsening the optical performance.

From internal measurements we can conclude that the sample heating has no effect on the image quality and therefore on the point spread function (PSF) for temperatures between room temperature and 100 °C.

The refractive index of the glass substrate is n=1.52 at 500 nm wavelength.
We tested VAHEAT in combination with high NA objectives (NA>1.4) and immersion oil up to 100 °C. We do not recommend going above this temperature as your objective might get damaged and the immersion oil can start to decompose.
The lifetime of the smart substrates depends on handling as they are fragile elements. Make sure to handle your substrate with care. This will prolong their lifetime. Typically, you can clean and reuse your substrates 2-4 times.
You can clean the smart substrates with organic solvents such as Ethanol, Isopropanol or Acetone. You can also use pH neutral detergents (e.g. Extran or Hellmanex). The smart substrates withstand ultrasonic cleaning as well as oxygen plasma treatment. Please avoid strong acids or bases. The substrates should not be in contact with the cleaning agent for more than 30 min.
Yes! They can be cleaned the same way as the planar smart substrates. In addition to that, you can use acids or bases to clean the reservoir volume (e.g. 5% HCl).
No! Please avoid putting the smart substrates into your autoclave. Instead you can use oxygen plasma treatment, gamma-ray sterilization or simply use ethanol or isopropanol to eliminate contaminations.
Yes! The surface facing the sample volume is glass only. You can chemically functionalize this surface the way you are used to functionalize your cover slips.
Yes! The reservoir can be covered by a small glass slide available upon request.
Yes! The upper surface of the substrate is simply glass. The reservoirs are made of silicone that is widely used in microfluidics and well known to be biocompatible.

We recommend oil and water based immersion medium. Please avoid glycerine as immersion medium as it will attack the smart substrates and depreciate their functionality.

The lead times are two to four weeks after receiving the purchase order.
The microscope adapter can be cleaned the same way as the smart substrates.