Tables, Stages and Cages

The Necessity for Optical Tables

Various Neuroscience, Life Science and Physics studies are extremely sensitive and require absolute stability. This is the reason why one needs to consider environmental vibrations that could impact negatively on high-resolution imaging, fine precision spectroscopy or delicate patch-clamping experiments.


As road traffic increase, so do the levels of vibration, and any nearby construction could increase these vibrations further. Additionally, your experimental setup is surrounded by external interference, e.g. central air conditioners, movement of elevators and even your colleagues’ voices. Seeing as labs are often not build as an isolated environment and are increasingly becoming multi-user facilities, it is essential to carefully monitor vibration levels. When designing an experimental setup, great care needs to be taken to eliminate them as much as possible. In many cases the resulting movement from vibrations can seriously affect research and experimental work and increases stress for researchers.


Therefore, MCI offers a range of ideal solutions in regard to anti-vibration and isolation systems for various environments and experimental paradigms. Please read more on what we have on offer on our dedicated MCI Air Optical Tables website.


Our most recommended solution and best seller for Neuroscience research, is the Pneumatic Vibration Isolation Optical Table. This heavy-duty table includes three lines of vibration isolation; 1) the rigid, but light-weight honeycomb core structure breadboard dampens any surface vibrations and provides optimal surface flatness, 2) the sturdy table frame serves as solid dampers for vibrations from the floor, and 3) the first-rate pneumatic system connected to each of the heavy-duty isolators ensure superb vibration isolation together with fast response times. This table is capable of automatic leveling and requires a compressed air source, which we would be happy to supply with your MCI Pneumatic table.


Precision Positioning

Every Electrophysiology, optical and imaging setup requires stages and mounts to effectively and precisely position the sample, probe or scope for attaining optimal results. The MCI portfolio includes a variety of microscopy stages as well as manipulator- and sample-holding mounts. Most of our products have a motorised and a manual alternative, to match every requirement and accommodate any budget. We have solutions for keeping the microscope stationary, whilst moving the sample/probe to the field of view. This option is particularly useful when the microscope optical pathway needs to be fixed. Alternatively, we have stages compatible with all types of microscopes to control their movement, when the sample must remain stationary. Additionally, some of our motorised components such as the CleverStage and CleverMount also have position recall functions, for effortless repeatability.


In experiments that require absolute darkness, such as studies involving Electroretinogram assessment, the use of our wireless CleverControl Cuboid makes precise positioning ideal. Thus, the rig can be completely closed off in a dark Faraday cage with the control box outside of the cage. The wireless controller allows fine movement of the microscope, the stage and the manipulators at this distance. Our team’s proficiency and extensive lab experience has helped us to be more perceptive in knowing what our customers need. The development of our wireless control systems is just one way to demonstrate our drive to assist you from Application to Publication.


Eliminate Electrical Noise

Every electrophysiologist has spent long hours in front of a rig, troubleshooting electrical noise interference. The problem is that electrical noise can come from a multitude of sources and it impacts negatively on the quality of your data. MCI has designed and developed an excellent range of Faraday cages to reduce both electromagnetic and radio-frequency interference. Taking into consideration the vast number of research protocols that they are used for, we design and manufacture every cage to your custom specifications. Our cages are made from highly conductive heavy-duty aluminium frames and fine copper mesh to ensure large reduction in noise levels. We design and manufacture these cages individually and our team of engineers and developers always go the extra mile to provide you with bespoke solutions. Please see our Faraday cage for further information.


If you have encountered some interesting struggles with electrical noise from strange sources, we would like to hear more about it. Please fill out our survey on Electrical Noise in the Lab and see what other researchers have struggled with by following us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


Contact Us

Request information now if you want to know more about our range of valuable tables, stages and cages.

Frequently Asked Questions

What antivibration solutions do you offer?

MCI offers 3 ranges of vibration isolation tables: pneumatic isolation, solid vibration damping, and rigid table. However we also supply a range of bench top vibration isolation platforms for various experimental paradigms. Please have a look at our extensive range on the dedicated MCI Air Optical Table website.

Pneumatic – This table model requires a compressed air source (needs air to balance out vibrations and movements). It is also sometimes referred to as an active isolation solution by some manufacturers, but this is actually a passive isolation system. The pneumatic system ensures fast responses and accurate re-leveling for sensitive studies. We also offer a High-Performance Pneumatic Table for experimental setups requiring the absolute best in vibration isolation.

Solid – This passive isolation solution provides structural damping to environmental interference. It includes a honeycomb core structure breadboard, but requires no maintenance or compressed air source. It offers great isolation for those less sensitive experiments.

Rigid –This is the cheapest solution for your lab, as it is a high rigidity table without isolation characteristics. It also includes a honeycomb core structure breadboard and the table legs are very sturdy to provide vibration damping through rigidity.

What isolation system do you recommend for my experiment?

When you are performing any of these studies, you will need the minimum isolation benefit of MCI’s:

  • High precision optical microscopy, live cell imaging, confocal microscopy, patch-clamp experiments, spectroscopy, interferometry   –   Pneumatic isolation optical table
  • Optical path testing, optical manufacturing, optical microscopy   –   Solid isolation optical table
  • Optical applications that do not require high vibration isolation performance such as basic spectrometry, manufacturing fiber optics assembly, teaching labs, velocimetry, non-phase-dependent and non-interferometric applications   –   Rigid table

What is the difference between active and passive isolation?

Active isolation refers to any optical solution that employs electric power, sensors, actuators, and/or control units, to provide exact counter forces to cancel out the environmental vibrations. Please get in touch to hear about MCI’s solutions.

Passive isolation refers to any optical solution that dampens and/or absorbs vibrations. This includes use of rubber pads and air springs such as our Solid and Pneumatic Isolation optical tables, respectively.

Do MCI tables come with any extras?

MCI provide bespoke Faraday cages for setup requiring electrical noise cancellation. Moreover, other extras can be added to your table:

Shelves – this gives you some extra space for your instruments. It can be customised according to your specifications, and we can add power strips at no extra cost

Castors – they ease the movement of the table.

What Faraday cage designs do you provide?

MCI offers 3 different models:

Standard 5 Panel – It can be frame mounted onto all MCI manufactured optical tables

6 Panel – It has an extra mesh floor panel that can either be a loose panel (for more flexibility with future research) or fitted. The 6-panel cage offers superb noise reduction as it is a complete closed system. A wooden base can also be included above the floor mesh panel to reduce damage to the copper mesh panel. This cage is recommended when no equipment needs to be mounted inside the cage.

Freestanding Cage – This can be assembled around any brand/model of tables and it includes four supports/legs. The cage is designed to be compatible with the dimensions of your existing table and will not interfere with its isolation performance.

Do you manufacture custom Faraday cages?

Yes, all our cages are manufactured as per the unique requirements from our customers. We can add cable ports, dark paneling, sound-proofing, shelving as well as power line filters and grounding to make a cage ideal for your experiment.

Please get in touch with your unique requirements.