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IMCF guidelines

1. General booking Rules:

  • The user can book a microscope only after having received the appropriate introduction.
  • The instruments can be booked up to 14 days in advance.
  • During daily working hours (9-17h), the instruments can be booked only for four hours per day. During evening/night hours and week-ends, the booking time is not limited.
  • If the user needs more time at an instrument, it can be arranged after discussion with the staff.
  • During the booked time the user is responsible for the instrument.
  • User fees are calculated based on the booking time. The following fees apply:

USAGE FEES (new fees starting 01.03.2023)
Microscope usage
Confocals and lightsheet:        
CHF 15/h on working hours Mon-Fri (9:00 17:00)
CHF 7/h for night and weekend hours
CHF 30/h on working hours Mon-Fri (9:00 17:00) – Light sheet Assisted session

CHF 12/h on working hours Mon-Fri (9:00 17:00)
CHF 6/h for night and weekend hours

OMX-Blaze superresolution:    
CHF 20/h for peak hours Mon-Fri (9:00 - 17:00) – Assisted session
CHF 10/h for night and weekend hours – Assisted session

IT-services and infrastructure
Bookable seminar room computers:
CHF 0.5/h of time logged in

VAMP-VMs (except for Hoth):
CHF 0.5/h of time logged in

Image analysis projects:
CHF 9/h spent by one of our image analysis experts

  • A booking can be cancelled at latest 12h before the actual starting time of the booking. Non-cancelled or too-late cancelled time will be fully charged.
  • The user is expected to work at the booked instrument. We tolerate a 30 minute delay. If the user does not cancel his/her booking, then he/she will be charged following the fees regulations.
  • Booking for colleagues is not allowed. However, a “not yet registered” user may work at a system under the supervision of a registered user (the latter should be present all the time).
  • Booking several systems in parallel is not allowed. Please contact us directly if you have an increased or specific need.

2. Switching systems ON/OFF:

  • When switching a system on or off, please refer to the instructions present at the respective microscope. It is important to always check them as they might contain new information about the system.
  • REMEMBER: switching lasers and lamps off/on within short intervals drastically reduces their lifetime! Therefore a 2-HOUR-RULE applies: Lasers and Fluorescence lamps must be left on (in STANDBY mode), if the pause between two slots is 2 hours or less. (lasers that are not needed within the next 2 hours can be switched off)

To ensure that systems are switched off properly, please follow these guidelines:

  • Check the actual booking status of the instrument at the very end of your slot: (the user who had booked after you might have deleted her/his booking at the last minute)
  • Actualize your booking, i.e. if you quit earlier, delete the rest of your booking in the booking system so it's visible that you actually are not at the system any more.
  • If you delete your slot on short notice i.e. during the day of your booking, be aware, that the system might have been left on for you. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE to properly switch the system off to avoid that it’s kept on over longer periods of time without being used.
  • If a system has just been switched off right before you planned to use it (you see that in the booking schedule), give the lasers and lamps at least 30 minutes time to cool down before re-starting the system.

3. Equipment handling, insurance question:

  • The user is responsible for the microscope and the material during the booked time. He/she or the respective group leader will have to pay for damage, as there is NO IMCF INSURANCE for any equipment.
  • Having food or drinks inside the microscope rooms is strictly forbidden.
  • Please keep the IMCF rooms tidy, clean spills with EtOH and remove any personal material before leaving. Anything found there will be discarded.
  • If systems are found in a damaged state please inform us immediately before you use the system such that we can track the problem down and find the responsible person.
  • Removal of any IMCF material (objectives, immersion oil, etc.) from any microscope room is strictly forbidden.
  • Exchanging objectives between the systems is strictly forbidden unless permitted by the IMCF staff.
  • Please handle the objectives with care (they are the most valuable parts of the microscopes in terms of good images and costs!)


  • The objective revolvers must always be lowered and centred before the stages are moved or homed (calibrated) when switching on a system and after usage.
  • Be extra careful not to touch the objectives when changing the sample holder on the stage (heating stages, self-assembled cell chambers with metal rings, etc)! Also avoid brute force on motorized stages, when changing sample holders (better turn off stage controller before mounting another sample holder onto the stage).
  • Focus carefully to avoid crashing into the coverslips (check by eye, if objective is still in safe position)
  • Oil objectives have to be cleaned with provided Kimwipe paper after usage. Please avoid wiping too much on the lens itself (as this can also scratch the lens). On inverted microscopes carefully clean the objective housing around the lens to avoid oil rinsing down into the optical system below the objective.
  • Only use the oil provided by IMCF at the different systems. Therefore clean the coverslips of your samples when imaging them on different systems with different oil. Mixing of oil of different brands or oil and water/medium can cause damage to lenses (check self assembled cell chambers for live cell imaging for leakage!)
  • Air/water Objectives must not get in contact with oil – if you realize that an air objective has got in contact with oil, please contact IMCF staff. It is explicitly indicated on the objective housing (and in the software), if it is used with oil immersion.

4. Data storage

  • Please backup your data right after image acquisition. We don’t guarantee safety of your data on any IMCF computer. Data stored on a microscope computer may be deleted without warning.
  • You can transfer data to USB keys, external hard-drives, CD/DVD or servers.  

We prefer servers (M-Drive) for virus safety reasons.

5. Warnings and sanctions
We control for proper handling/booking of the instruments and we record when/where/who has violated the guidelines. (You’ll be informed, if you got a record).

Please be aware of the following conditions:

  • A user receives a warning / record...
    • ...if she/he was using a system without booking it
    • ...if she/he has booked a system, but is not using the system (up to 30min delay are tolerated)
    • ...if she /he is booking for colleagues
    • ...if she/he didn't shut down the system properly - either because she/he forgot to switch the system off after her/his slot or upon spontaneous cancellation of her/his slot without controlling, or if the system has been shut down by the previous user (see section 2- Switching on/off systems).
  • If a user is found for the first time using a microscope without respecting these rules, he/she receives a first warning.
  • Upon the second incidence, the user receives a 1st record and the respective PI will be informed.
  • Any further violation of the guidelines triggers a 2nd record and a meeting of the respective user, his/her PI and the head of the IMCF. As a result further usage of IMCF equipment  may be prohibited.

In all these cases the respective system (i.e. lasers, lamps, electronics) is left on fully running. As a result, the user or the group leader has to pay the regular price for the instrument for the amount of time that the system was kept running without usage.

Please contact the IMCF staff, if the rules described above are unclear to you.

6. Information
All IMCF users will receive emails with the newest information about any changes at IMCF systems (updates, new equipment, actual status of systems, upcoming events). If you don’t receive IMCF emails (or you know of colleagues who don’t) please inform the IMCF staff.

New information about the systems may also be posted at the microscope itself.
It is important to read these emails and posts to be informed about any changes regarding the microscopes, regulations, as these might affect proper performance of the systems!
The IMCF homepage offers an overview of the IMCF equipment and software: