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Motorized Patch-Clamp Micromanipulators

  • Motorized Micromanipulator Assemblies for Precision Control
  • Ideal for Gibraltar™ Microscope Platforms
  • Position Pipette or Electrode Along Three Different Axes


Application Idea

Custom Motorized Micromanipulators Mounted on
Our Gibraltar GHB-BX Platform
(See Custom Options Tab for More Details)


Headstage Adapter

Related Items

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Common Specifications
Control Type Fine (Piezo) Coarse (Motorized)
Travel 150 µm 300 µm 25 mm
Resolution <60 nm <120 nm 1.6 µm (Min)
Speed Directly Proportional to Rate of Knob Turns Continuously Variable from 0.5 µm/s to 2 mm/s
Memory Speed 3.5 mm/s
Drift <1 µm/hr
Computer Interface USB
Manipulator Dimensions (L x W x H) 7.0" x 8.5" x 7.5"
(178 mm x 216 mm x 190.5 mm)


  • Motorized Micromanipulators with Stepper Motor and Piezoelectric Translation
  • Minimal Drift During Experiments: <1 µm/hr
  • Right-Handed Cultured Configurations Available from Stock
  • Translation Along Three Axes
    • 25 mm Coarse Travel (Stepper Motor)
    • 150 or 300 µm Fine Travel (Piezoelectric)
  • Repeatably Set Approach Angle Using Adjustable Stop Rings
  • Headstage and Pipette Adapters Sold Separately
  • Includes Axis Control Unit, Joystick and Computer Controller, and 60 V Power Supply
  • Other Configurations Available as Customs (See Custom Options Tab)

Thorlabs' Motorized Micromanipulators offer excellent control of pipette manipulation for electrophysiology and life sciences research. These micromanipulators use a combination of stepper motors and piezoelectric (PZT) control of translation stages to provide smooth and precise movement of the pipette head. When combined with our Gibraltar Platforms, these micromanipulators achieve unparalleled stability and control. We also offer Manual Patch-Clamp Micromanipulators with piezoelectric translation.

We offer motorized right-handed micromanipulators in a cultured configuration (see image to the right). This configuration provides control over the 3 cardinal directions (X, Y, and Z), which is ideal for patching cells. Translation along the X- and Y-axes positions the pipette over the cell of interest and then the Z translation brings the pipette down to patch clamp a cell. Two adjustable stop rings enable the user to set an approach angle and rotational orientation for fast alignment during pipette swapping (see the Micromanipulator tab for more information). We also offer left-handed cultured micromanipulators, as well as traditional left- and right-handed micromanipulators, as custom options; please the Custom Options tab for more details.

The micromanipulator can move along three different axes. Coarse translation is controlled using a stepper motor that produces a displacement up to 25 mm at a 1.6 µm minimum step size. These electrically quiet motors utilize specially shielded cables, an internal ground skeleton, and a grounding pin to eliminate noise and interference. Fine control on the micromanipulators is achieved with piezoelectric flexure mounts that provide a displacement of either 150 µm or 300 µm along each axis.

These motorized micromanipulators can use either a joystick or computer interface to control the stepper motor translation. Additionally, the user is able to store up to two independent positions in memory. Pushing a button on either control system (joystick or computer) recalls the stored position, allowing the user to quickly and easily move between two predetermined positions on the micromanipulator.

Adapters for positioning a headstage or pipette at steep or shallow approach angles can be purchased separately below. These adapters allow for more experimental flexibility and minimize mechanical clashing with microscopy objectives or other experimental apparatus. A close-approach headstage and pipette adapter is also available that allows pipettes and headstages to be positioned closer to a sample without interference from the micromanipulator.

Piezoelectric Control
Piezoelectric control is used to achieve superior positioning compared to hydraulic manipulators, mechanical manipulators, or motorized lead screws. Piezoelectric control provides smooth and predictable movement with no backlash and minimal drift (<1 µm/hr with temperature control). An axis control unit is included with each piezoelectric micromanipulator (see the Control Unit tab). Each axis is controlled by an independent knob on the control unit and provides a displacement of 150 µm or 300 µm (depending on model). Three turns on the control unit corresponds to the full piezo travel range, resulting in a resolution of 0.04% of the total travel.

Traditional Configuration Micromanipulator Assembly
Click to Enlarge
Traditional Configurations are available as custom options. Please see Custom Options tab for more details.
Cultured Configuration Micromanipulator Assembly
Click to Enlarge
Right-Handed, Cultured Configurations are available from stock.
(Left-Handed configurations are available as custom options. Please see Custom Options tab.)
PCS-6000 Micromanipulator Assembly
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Micromanipulator Assembly

Micromanipulator Assembly

Thorlabs' Micromanipulator Assembly is composed of three linear translation stages, two rotary stages with lockable stops, one set of angle brackets, and headstage mounting plate. The cross roller bearings of this assembly form a stiff and precise single-axis bearing system with high load capacity and minimal friction. The PZT actuators yield 60 nm resolution, virtually no heating, zero backlash, and negligible drift (<1 µm/hr).

The headstage mounting plate easily accommodates headstages and pipettes. Note that while many headstages may be directly bolted to the headstage mounting plate, other headstages may be mounted to the mounting plate by adding the appropriate mounting holes.

The headstage pivot allows for simple optimization of the pipette angle of approach on either an inverted or upright microscope. Additionally, the
PCS-500-SSH Steep/Shallow Headstage Adapter or MIS-PHM Pipette Holder may be used in applications requiring very steep or shallow angles. Due to the symmetric design of our micromanipulator assembly, this system can be easily modified for a left-sided or orthogonal approach axis without needing a special adapter kit.

Adjustable Stop Ring

PCS-5000 Mechanical Stop
Click to Enlarge
Adjustable Stop Ring with Pin and Brass Block with Locking Thumbscrew

These micromanipulators include two adjustable stop rings that allow a user to repeatedly and accurately set the approach angle and horizontal rotational orientation (see image to the left). Once an appropriate angle or rotation is established, tighten the thumbscrew on the brass block to lock the mount in position. Loosen the two setscrews on either side of the pin using a 0.05" (1.3 mm) balldriver or hex key. Rotate the ring until the protruding pin is in physical contact with the brass block. To lock the ring, tighten the exposed setscrew, then loosen the thumbscrew to allow the mount to rotate freely. 

The adjustable stop rings in combination with the headstage adapter or pipette holder (sold separately below) provide a convenient mechanism for quickly changing pipettes and returning to the last position during an experiment, minimizing position readjustments and increasing efficiency. To do this, the user can set the adjustable stop ring to remember the approach angle and rotation, move the pipette away from the sample using the slide assembly on the adapters, rotate the stage away to exchange the pipette, and then quickly return to same approach angle and rotation as before.

PCS-5000 Control Cube
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Axis Control Unit PCS-6000 Power Supply
Click to Enlarge

60 V Power Supply

Axis Control Unit

The axis control unit allows the user to adjust pipette placement by hand with smooth and repeatable movement through control of the piezo flexure mount. Each of the three stages that comprise our micromanipulator assembly can connect to one of the potentiometer knobs on the axis control unit. For convenience during system configuration, the user may choose any knob to control any particular stage. This allows the user to set the axis control unit in the most intuitive configuration for the system.

Each knob controls a three-turn potentiometer, which regulates voltage to the piezo flexure assembly and thus its position. Three turns correspond to the full travel range of the piezo assembly, yielding a resolution that is 0.04% of the total piezo travel range. For example, a 150 µm piezo travel stage will have a 60 nm resolution provided by the axis control unit. Additionally, the user may set the potentiometer friction to suit experimental needs.

Joystick and Computer Controller

Control of the stepper motors is accomplished through the use of either the included joystick or through a computer GUI interface. Computer control features a virtual joystick and gives 3-D position readouts. The joystick offers analog control allowing the motorized assembly speed to be controlled continuously between 0.5 nm/s to 2 mm/s (for computer control, this sensitivity can be directly set in the GUI) and offers a minimum step size of 1.6 µm. Both joystick and computer control allow the user to store up to two independent positions in memory and give simple push button recall to said positions. This allows the user to quickly and reliably switch between two preset positions. 

Power Supply

Our micromanipulator power supply provides a regulated, low noise, 60 V output for the axis control unit. Two voltage outputs enable the power supply to regulate two axis control units. This allows the user to run two micromanipulation assemblies from the same power source, saving both money and space. This power supply accepts an input power range of 100 - 240 V at 50 - 60 Hz.

Custom Options for Motorized Micromanipulators 

In addition to the motorized micromanipulators available from stock, traditional and left-handed cultured configurations are available as custom options. The cultured configuration provides control over the 3 cardinal directions (X, Y, and Z), which is ideal for patching cells. Translation along the X- and Y-axes positions the pipette over the cell of interest and then the Z translation brings the pipette down to patch clamp a cell. For applications such as brain slice work, we offer the traditional configuration. In these applications, control over the Y, Z, and approach axis is preferred. Please see the table below for more details on each custom option. We also offer Manual Micromanipulators that are available in stock or as custom options.

Configurationa Item # Type Coarse Travelb Fine Travelc
All Axes X Axis Y Axis Z Axis
Cultured Micromanipulator
PCS-6200CL 150 µm PZT Travel in All Axes 25 mm 150 µm 150 µm 150 µm
PCS-6300CL Longer Fine Z-Axis Travel 150 µm 150 µm 300 µm
PCS-6400CL Highest PZT Range for Maximum Flexibility 300 µm 300 µm 300 µm
Traditional Micromanipulator
PCS-6200TR 150 µm PZT Travel in All Axes 25 mm 150 µm 150 µm 150 µm
PCS-6300TR Recommended for working in slices where longer
PZT travel on the approach axis is required.
150 µm 150 µm 300 µm
PCS-6400TR Recommended for working in thick slices
where maximum flexibility is needed.
300 µm 300 µm 300 µm
Traditional Micromanipulator
PCS-6200TL 150 µm PZT Travel in All Axes 25 mm 150 µm 150 µm 150 µm
PCS-6300TL Recommended for working in slices where longer
PZT travel on the approach axis is required.
150 µm 150 µm 300 µm
PCS-6400TL Recommended for working in thick slices
where maximum flexibility is needed.
300 µm 300 µm 300 µm
  • Click for Photo
  • Motorized Control Using Stepper Motor
  • Piezoelectric Control Using Axis Control Unit

For questions and ordering details, please contact Tech Support.

Posted Comments:  (posted 2015-05-26 10:53:12.267)
Recently, I bought this product, which was said can be computer controlled. However, I couldn't find the driver and software. Could you send me the driver and software for computer control. Best regards, Gang Lu
besembeson  (posted 2015-07-15 03:22:16.0)
Response from Bweh at Thorlabs USA: We will be contacting you directly regarding.

Right-Handed, Cultured Micromanipulator

Item # Coarse Travela Fine Travelb Description
All Axes X Axis Y Axis Z Axis
PCS-6200CR 25 mm 150 µm 150 µm 150 µm 150 µm PZT Travel in All Axes
PCS-6300CR 25 mm 150 µm 150 µm 300 µm Longer Fine Z-Axis Travel
PCS-6400CR 25 mm 300 µm 300 µm 300 µm Highest PZT Range for Maximum Flexibility
  • Motorized Control Using Stepper Motor
  • Piezoelectric Control Using Axis Control Unit

Please Note: For other configurations, please see the Custom Options tab.

Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available
PCS-6200CR Support Documentation
PCS-6200CRMotorized, Cultured Micromanipulator Assembly, RH, 150 µm X, Y, and Z
PCS-6300CR Support Documentation
PCS-6300CRMotorized, Cultured Micromanipulator Assembly, RH, 150 µm X and Y, 300 µm in Z
PCS-6400CR Support Documentation
PCS-6400CRMotorized, Cultured Micromanipulator Assembly, RH, 300 µm X, Y, and Z

Micromanipulator Headstage Adapter and Pipette Holder Mounts

Click to Enlarge
The PCS-500-SSH can be mounted for steep (left) or shallow (right) approach angles.
  • Mount Headstages or Pipettes onto Manual or Motorized Micromanipulator Assemblies
  • Three Options Available:
    • PCS-500-SSH: Two Dovetails with a Mounting Platform for Large Axon or HEKA Headstages
    • PCS-AXN-ADP: Single-Dovetail, Close-Approach Adapter for Smaller Headstages
    • MIS-PHM: Two Dovetails with Pipette Mount that Provides 360° Rotational Positioning
  • Smooth Motion Allows Orientation of Headstage or Pipette at Very Steep (>45°) or Very Shallow (<25°) Angles
  • Multiple Mounting Position Options Provide Extra Clearance Near Objectives

These adapters for the micromanipulator assemblies provide a flexible platform for mounting a headstage or pipette; see the table below for details. Each adapter alows the mounted headstage or pipette to be positioned at steep or shallow approach angles. Steep approach angles are often desired in electrophysiology experiments in order to minimize the length of the electrode in solution, ensuring that electrical noise is kept to a minimum. In contrast, slice electrophysiology experiments often use electrodes positioned nearly parallel (15° to 25° angle) to the experimental surface to allow the pipette tip to be moved in a straight line over the sample chamber. Shallow approach angles also enable users to stack multiple pipettes or headstages in close proximity. In both these cases, extra clearance for steep or shallow approach angles is needed to prevent interference with the microscope or other experimental apparatus.

Click to Enlarge
PCS-500-SSH Headstage Adapter Components

Steep/Shallow Headstage Adapter
The PCS-500-SSH Steep/Shallow Angle Headstage Adapter features a flexible mounting platform for Axon CV-5, Axon CV-203B, and HEKA EPC-9 headstages. The adapter consists of the headstage adapter plate, the slide assembly with a dovetail on the back, a clamping plate, and a mounting plate (shown in the image to the right). Using the adapter, users can quickly exchange pipettes during an experiment.

The mounting plate provides two possible dovetail grooves for securing the slide. For shallow approach angles, the slide is placed within the lower dovetail bracket, while for steep approach angles, the slide is placed in the upper dovetail bracket (see the image above to the right). Mounting in this manner provides maximum clearance above the micromanipulator when it is rotated for a steep angle approach.

To install the adapter, attach the mounting plate to the micromanipulator using the included 4-40 screws (3/32" hex). Secure the slide assembly in one of the dovetail grooves by installing the clamping plate with the included 2-56 cap screws and 5/64" (2 mm) hex key. The user can loosen the clamping plate and position the entire slide assembly; this determines the stop locations that correspond to the fully extended and fully retracted positions of the pipette. At least 1" of the slide assembly should be held by the clamping plate to ensure stability of the mount. To adjust the slide position, turn the locking handle to loosen, then move the slide to the desired location, and retighten the locking handle.

Click for Details
The PCS-AXN-ADP Close-Approach Adapter Secured to a Micromanipulator

Click to Enlarge
MIS-PHM Pipette Holder Mount Secured to Micromanipulator

Close Approach Headstage Adapter
The PCS-AXN-ADP Headstage Adapter is a compact solution for the close approach mounting of a smaller headstage or pipette mount (sold separately). This compact solution provides more clearance room for other equipment.

It is attached to the micromanipulator using the headstage adapter plate included with the micromanipulator and the included 2-56 cap screws and 5/64" (2 mm) hex key. When mounted to this adapter, the PCS-AXN-ADP will be offset from the micromanipulator body, allowing it to be used in closer proximity to the experiment while reducing mechanical clashing. Please see the manual for detailed mounting instructions.

A single dovetail groove is provided to hold a headstage or pipette mount. The groove is the same width as the other headstage adapters, making it compatible with the headstage adapter plate included with the PCS-500-SSH and the pipette mount included with the MIS-PHM.

Pipette Holder Mount
The MIS-PHM Pipette Holder Mount can hold pipettes up to Ø4 mm and position them at steep or shallow approach angles. It uses the same mounting plate and dovetail clamping mechanism as the PCS-500-SSH Headstage Adapter, which allows for positioning of the slide position and two mounting locations. The pipette clamp can freely rotate 360°, allowing for coarse control of the pipette rotation angle. Fine control of the approach angle is accomplished using the micromanipulator itself.

For users who have an older pipette holder, please contact Tech Support for information on replacement options.

Item # Compatibility Approach Anglesb Mounting
Headstage Pipette Mounta
PCS-500-SSH Axon CV-203B
Axon CV-5
(Not Included)
Smooth Motion for
Steep (>45°) or
Shallow (<25°)
Mounts Directly to Micromanipulator
Axon CV-7B
(Not Included)
Close Approach, Requires Headstage Adapter Plate
(Included with Micromanipulators)
Mounts Directly to Micromanipulator
  • A pipette mount is included with the MIS-PHM. It is compatible, but not included, with the PCS-AXN-ADP and PCS-500-SSH.
  • Steep and shallow approach angles can be achieved using the PCS-500-SSH and MIS-PHM by using the top or bottom dovetail on the back plate.
Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available
PCS-500-SSH Support Documentation
PCS-500-SSHSteep/Shallow Headstage Adapter
PCS-AXN-ADP Support Documentation
PCS-AXN-ADPClose Approach Headstage Adapter
MIS-PHM Support Documentation
MIS-PHMPipette Holder Mount
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