How to build a ghetto micro-environmental chamber for inverted fluorescence microscopy.

This project is very easy, super cheap, and has a very specific application.


Our lab has been trying to figure out ways to cheaply set-up an environmental chamber for time lapse imaging of tissue cultures.  Environmental chambers are typically expensive or just a pain to make and so I threw this ghetto chamber together.  This chamber works for us because we use an inverted confocal microscope.  This make-shift chamber is opaque and will not work for any set-up where light passes through the bottom of a sample and out the top (in our case light passes up through the bottom and then is scattered back down).

The chamber requires an appropriate gas supply (our goal is to use air with 5% CO2) and some way to regulate the flow to the chamber.  We are having trouble locating a good gas supply so the chamber hasn’t been tested out yet.


What you will need

    • Equipment
      • drill
      • drill bit
    • Reagents and consumables
      • a pipette box lid that is larger than culture plates
      • barbed fitting with threaded end
      • tubing (runs from fitting to tank)
      • washer
      • nut


Required consumables.

Below is what the inside of the pipette box lid looks like.  This is also the orientation the lid should be in when it is drilled.

Pipette tip box lid (bottom view)

Drill a pilot hole (use a smaller bit than your final size and if needed increase from one size bit to the next until the final bore size is reached).  The pilot hole is important because pipette tip box lids are likely to crack when being drilled.

Pipette tip box lid with drilled hole

Now the chamber can be assembled.  Push the threaded end of the barbed fitting into the chamber.  Place a washer and then a nut onto the portion of the threaded barb that is on the inside of the chamber.  The figures below shows the finished chamber on the outside and inside.

Micro-environment chamber assembled.

Inside of the micro-environment chamber.

Naturally a longer tube than the one I have depicted above will need to be used to reach the air tank.  The short piece I have attached is there for display.

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3 Responses to “How to build a ghetto micro-environmental chamber for inverted fluorescence microscopy.”

  1. marioplumbing Says:

    Are you trying to put out the vendors for Big Pharma with your cost-efficient alternatives?

    Made in America!

  2. Chris Cunningham Says:

    When are we going to test this?

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