Neurophotonics Centre, CERVO Brain Research Centre

Université Laval, Quebec, Québec
What the facility does

Dedicated to the development of new tools to improve our understanding of the nervous system and lead to better diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases

Areas of expertise

The Neurophotonics Centre is a unique, state-of-the-art national facility for advanced biophotonics approaches dedicated toward the understanding of the brain, the development of diagnostics for brain disorders and phototherapy. The high-calibre, multidisciplinary centre brings together a team of researchers, scientists and staff who develop and use the most innovative methods integrating neuroscience and physics. Spanning over 3,000 square metres, the Centre houses 6 clean rooms, 54 microscopy rooms, wet labs, cold rooms, tissue culture rooms, histology rooms, and a workshop for instrument design. The Centre, through its ‘Frontiers in Neurophotonics’ Summer school, contributes to the training of highly qualified personnel in this specialized field. Moreover, this national facility offers services to the Canadian and International scientific communities through one or more of its platforms. Its mission is to provide Canadian scientists the tools to use and develop the approaches of tomorrow to help solve the mysteries of the brain. The Centre is also dedicated to the training of a new generation of scientists capable of developing the necessary technology to tackle unsolved brain-related function and disorders.

Research services

Gene transfer technologies and production of viral vectors. Sorting of neurons upon their physical properties (size and granularity) as well as their optical properties (fluorescent staining). Electron Microscopy, cryo-fixation, embedding, semi and ultra-thin sectioning with ultra-microtome. Optical imaging, optogenetic resources: Time-resolved fluorescence microscopy, Video-rate imaging in-vivo, Coherent Anti-stokes Raman Scattering microscopy, Two-photon imaging, Super-resolution imaging, Optical microprobe, Fiber photometry in vivo, random-access fluorescence microscopy, Single molecule tracking, cell-sorting (FACS)

Sectors of application
  • Education
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment

Specialized facility



Cell Sorting Platform

FACS Aria II Flow Cytometer 

(BD Biosciences)

Cell sorter capable of detecting 12 simultaneous parameters including 10 different fluorochromes


FACS Diva 6.1.3

FlowJo 9.0.1

Software for data analysis

Electronic platform microscopy

Tecnai G2 12 TWIN Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM)



Acquisition software: Tecnai UI version 2.1.8

(FEI company)


Analysis software: AnalySIS version 3.2, Soft

Imaging System GmbH Digital


Camera: Mega View I

The 120 kV / LaB6 TEM enables the exploration of the 2D ultra-structure of living organisms, as well as the morphology, chemical composition and function of natural and artificial materials


Magnification: 19.5 X to 300 000 X



FEI Vitrobot Mark IV Automatic Plunge Freezer

Automated vitrification device for plunge-freezing of aqueous suspensions ensuring reproducible sample freezing and high sample throughput


Leica VT1200S Vibratome

The automatic vibrating blade microtome is designed to section tissue at a thickness between 30 and 400µm. A “minichiller” controls the temperature of the buffer during sectioning.


Q150T E Carbon Evaporator

(Quorum Technologies)

High vacuum carbon coater, ideal to obtain highly stable carbon films allowing a better adhesion of the specimen to the grid, before examination under the electron microscope (TEM)


Leica EM AFS2

Freeze Substitution Automate System

Performs freeze substitution and progressive lowering of temperature techniques and allows low temperature embedding and polymerization of resins used for electron microscopy

Advanced  optogenetic resources

In vivo Microendoscopy system

(Doric lenses)

The Basic Snap-in Fluorescence Microscope Body has the dichroic beam-splitter, M3 optical connector, CMOS sensor



In vivo Fiber Photometry System

(Doric lenses)

Measures the 405 nm (isosbestic point) excited GCaMP fluorescence, and the 465 nm excited calcium-dependent GCaMP fluorescence for in vivo measurements


Model : 1-site 2-color Fiber Photometry System - two excitation wavelengths - 405 and 465 nm


Fiberless and Wireless (Fi-Wi) OSE System

(Doric Lenses)

Fi-Wi Optogenetically Synchronized Electrophysiology System features the opto-electric cannula with one LED and up to four recording electrodes, the fiberless and wireless headstage.


Micro-optrode recordings in vivo

(Doric Lenses)

Dual-core fiberoptics–based microprobes to locally excite and collect fluorescence and an electrolyte-filled hollow core for extracellular single unit electrophysiology.

Advanced optical imaging  resources

Multiphoton Resonant System


Designed to acquire fast frame rates deep into tissues over the entire field of view. Tailored to large back aperture objectives, the entire field of view can be quickly scanned to monitor the activity from a large number of cells.


Multiphoton Galvo Systems (2 available)


Comes with a galvanometer scan head for the greatest flexibility to direct the laser to any position in the field of view.


'Galvo' mirrors offer the benefit of variable scanning speeds, adjustable to suit each individual application. Highly flexible scan patterns such as arbitrary line scans or patterned point scanning (e.g. for uncaging experiments) can easily be achieved.


Multiphoton ‘HyperScope’ system


This system simultaneously performs two-photon microscopy and photostimulation


Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering imaging system

(Custom system)

Label-free multi-photon microscopy unit for in-vivo, video-rate imaging and hyperspectral molecular imaging achieved using a wavelength-tunable pulsed laser


Light sheet microscope

(Custom system)

Volumetric high resolution imaging system for large sample imaging (whole cleared brain or organ). The system reach 1-2 um resolution in all 3 axis. 


Total Internal Reflectance of Fluorescence (TIRF) microscope

(Olympus body; semi-custom design)

4 colors imaging system, microscope optimized for Quantum dot tracking, spt-PALM, TIRF and widefield imaging of live cultured cells



Superresolution microscope (STED)

(Abberior Instruments)

Super-resolution microscope enabling 3D, multi-colored imaging of fixed and live cells with nanometric resolution. Features 6 pulsed lasers; 4 excitation lasers and 2 depletion lasers with wavelengths optimized for typical biological dyes.

Excitation: 488,518,561 and 640 nm

Depletion: 595 and 775 nm



(Huron Digital Pathology)

Automated confocal imaging system allowing the acquisition 12 microscope slides with 4 different fluorophores. The system has a very large field of view of 5 mm to minimize stitching of multiple images.


Acousto-optic deflectors (AOD) random-access microscope


Ultrafast imaging system based on AOD technology, enabling fast scanning imaging (up to 10 MHz; 100 ns per pixel), or ultrafast random access scanning 100 kHz/POI


Confocal LSM 700 microscopes


The LSM 700 laser scanning confocal microscope is designed for ease of use when investigating complex phenomena. The instrument can detect up to four color signals at frame rates approaching 5 frames per second at 512 x 512 pixels. Efficient separation of the fluorescence signals by selective laser excitation coupled to efficient splitting of the emission using the variable secondary dichroic (VSD) beamsplitter prevents crosstalk and enables spectral imaging as well as linear unmixing of highly overlapping fluorophores. Among the advanced features of the VSD beamsplitter is that all portions of the emission spectrum are utilized for determining each spectral data point.


(2 systems available)


Confocal LSM 510 microscopes


Includes full motorization, four fluorescence channels, individual pinholes, exchangeable emission filters and six-channel AOTF


(2 systems available; one upright, one inverted)


Widefield automated inverted microscope (Axiovert)


Equipped with multi-channel epifluorescence, phase contrast, DIC, and bright field imaging


Confocal LSM 880 Airyscan microscope


Newest generation of confocal microscope from Zeiss. Comes with an Airyscan module, enhancing its resolution. This system is also equipped with additional external detectors for time-resolved studies (FLIM)

  Bio-Rad QX200 Droplet Digital PCR (DDPCR) equipped with a PX1 plate sealer Can accommodate 96- to 384-well plates
  Life Technologies QS5 384 quantitative PCR (qPCR)  

Bliq Photonics light sheet microscope system

  Extended depth of field microscope system (based on Axicon technology) Video-rate in vivo imaging (for small rodents)
  Brain Vision EEG system compatible with MRI and transcranial magnetic stimulation  
  Tucker-Davis multichannel electrophysiology system Neural acquisition, treatment and stimulation
  Miltenyi Biotec magnetic activated cell sorting (MACS) system  
  Boston Electronics/Becker and Hickl 2-channel fluorescence-lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) system  
  In-house photometry system for in vivo recording  
  ANYMAZE videotracking system Recording of rodent behaviours
  In-house Coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering spectroscopy (CARS) system In vivo and ex vivo imaging of biological samples without contrast agents

PerkinElmer Spectrum IVIS bioluminescence device

  Chronophotonix 3-colour LED illumination system Stimulates the biological clock
  LKC portable in situ ERG systems (four) Measures electroretinographic (ERG) activity
  Avisoft 116H UltrasoundGate system Ultrasound stimulation and recording system
  X-Clarity tissue clearing system  
  Life Technologies EVOS FL microscope for the culture room  
  Zeiss inverted fluorescence microscope system Electrophysiological experiments in neural cultures
  SCIL mobile X-ray imaging system  
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Neurophotonics Centre