ScanImage 2019 : Supported Microscope Hardware


Scanhead Hardware

ScanImage supports a wide variety of scanning systems including linear (galvo/galvo, GG) and resonant/galvo (RG) systems. Resonant scanning with multiple
regions of interest (MROI) is supported for GG and resonant/galvo/galvo (RGG) systems. Parallel scanning systems are supported to provide simultaneous imaging
and photostimulation. 

Supported scanning configurations can be ordered as a preassembled system, or as individual components.


Cambridge Technology & others

Acquisition and Control Hardware


ScanImage 2015 and later allows users to configure their system for resonant scanning or linear scanning (=galvo only scanning). A microscope with two laser paths can combine both methods to allow for simultaneous imaging and photostimulation.

The sections below describe the basic acquisition and control hardware requirements for both imaging systems.



Resonant Scanning

ScanImage uses vDAQ for data acquisition and microscope control. vDAQ is an all-in-one data acquisition board that controls the most advanced laser scanning microscopes.



The 2U rackmountable vDAQ breakout shows the main functionality of the data acquisition system:

  • 4 fast analog inputs for acquiring PMT data
  • 12 2MHz analog outputs for microscope control (Galvos, Piezos, Pockels Cells, ...)
  • 12 1MHz analog inputs for actuator feedback
  • 32 digital inputs/outputs for triggering / clocking 



Linear Scanning

For linear Scanning, ScanImage supports two hardware platforms

  1. vDAQ (recommended)
  2. NI DAQ hardware (low cost)


vDAQ for linear scanning

See vDAQ Configuration for more information.

NI hardware for linear scanning


PMT acquisition, galvo control


 For multi-PMT acquisition, a simultaneously sampled NI X-series board is required.


Pockels controlPCIe-6321 OR PXIe-6341Highly recommended - allows blanking laser during resonant scanner slowdown and galvo scanner flyback
Piezo/FastZ controlPCIe-6321 OR PXIe-6341Allows for volume imaging applications

Users upgrading from ScanImage 3.8 can reuse their existing PCI-6110/6132/6133 digitizers, but will need to purchase at least one additional X-series board (e.g. PCIe-6321). Please contact us at to learn about upgrade options from ScanImage 3.x

Configuration Guide


Please see Configuring LinScan (Galvo Galvo scanning) page for additional details.

Preamplifier Hardware

Photomultiplier tubes require a transimpedance amplifier for recording by ScanImage.

The optimal bandwidth depends on the sample rate and shortest pixel durations. 

For resonant scanning a bandwidth of at least 30 Mhz is recommended.

The Femto DHCPA-100 is a commercial off-the-shelf option suited for ScanImage 5 and later, at its 80MHz setting.

Thorlabs also makes a usable transimpedance amplifier. Please contact them directly for a part number and quote.

Computer Hardware


 Minimum Recommended

64-bit processor with 4 cores, ≥ 3GHz


  • Current recommended processors are the i7-9700K. An i5 versions of this processors will work but provides lower performance.

(info) Processors/systems with at least 6 cores may be valuable for future ScanImage or user-specific requirements combining TPLSM imaging with other simultaneous processing/acquisition


Matlab is single threaded in its base configuration, so that a high CPU clock rate is desirable. The fastest single thread processor is currently the i7-9700K. Xeon processors are poor choices for running ScanImage.



(info) Additional RAM may be valuable for future ScanImage or user-specific requirements, e.g. online image analysis done in User Functions 

PCIe slots
  • (usually) PCIe x16 for a graphics card.
  • (required) PCIe x1 for MXI controller connecting to the PXI chassis

(info) If PCIe based DAQ's (e.g. PCIe-6341) are used for Beams and Fast Z Concepts features, then additional PCIe slots will be required. Only the PCIe x1 slot for the MXI controller card is strictly required when using a PXIe chassis.

(info) Additional PCIe slots may be valuable for future ScanImage or other user-specific requirements

Hard Drives

A separate drive or partition for OS and data logging/storage is recommended, to avoid contention.

Either a RAID 0 magnetic drive pair or solid-state drive (SSD), whole or partition, is recommended for data logging/storage, to achieve write performance >300Mb/second.


  • Drive for OS plus separate solid-state drive (SSD) for data logging/storage


  • Drive for OS plus two 7200 rpm hard drives in RAID 0 configuration to achieve 300 Mb/sec write speed for data logging
  • M.2 drive for OS provides optimal performance for ScanImage
  • Ultra-fast data storage > 5Gb/sec can be achieved if necessary.
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 8.1 Professional
  • Windows 10 Professional


Piezo Hardware (Optional)

VendorControllerCompatible PiezosComments
Physik Instrumente

E-709 (CHG)

PIFOC piezos (e.g. P-721, P-725, P-725.xDD, P-725KHDS) 
nPointLC.40xnPFocus objectivesOptions from 100um to 1000um of travel
Generic  Any focusing device accepting a -10V..10V analog command signal.


Stage Hardware (Optional)

VendorStage ControllersSI FreeSI Premium
SutterMP-285, MPC-200(tick)(tick)

MCM3000, MCM5000, MCM6000, Bergamo II Scope, DDSM100, MLJ150, Z812B, Z825B


Patchstar (2), Slice Scope

Physik InstrumenteE-665, E-709 (CHG), E-753, C-884, C-863(tick)(tick)
nPointLC.400 Series(tick)(tick)
ZaberX-DMQ12P, X-LRM050A, X-LRQ300, X-VSR40A(tick)(tick)
Newport*XPS, ESP301(tick)(tick)
GalilDMC 4040 (tick)
PriorProScan III (tick)

*Requires MATLAB Instrument Control Toolbox

SLM Hardware (Optional)

Meadowlark OpticsPCIe8 (ODP series)
Meadowlark OpticsPCIe16
Meadowlark Optics1920x1152 SLM
-DVI/HDMI controlled SLM

Camera Hardware


FLIR/PointgreyUSB3, GigE
uManagerVariety of cameras