Sackler Biodiversity Imaging Laboratory

Sackler Biodiversity Imaging Laboratory

The Sackler Biodiversity Imaging Laboratory (SBIL) houses state-of-the-art microscopy systems that allow scientists from all over the world to see beyond the limits of the naked eye.

Traditional manual microscopes compliment the new automated and fully programmable imaging systems, together allowing the SBIL to facilitate a diverse array of research and curation projects. Digitisation is a major focus of the Museum's Science Strategy and the SBIL is pioneering the implementation of new techniques and adapting methods to achieve this goal. 

The Sackler Biodiversity Imaging Laboratory was funded by the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation. It opened in 2009 and was refurbished in 2015.

Equipment specifications

  • Olympus BX61: A fully automated compound microscope optimised for reflected and transmitted light and equipped with long working distance and water-dipping objectives.
  • Olympus BX63: A fully automated compound microscope for transmitted light capable of phase contrast and DIC illumination for the full range of magnification.
  • Zeiss AxioZoom v.16: Top-of-the-range stereomicroscope combining 16x zoom with a high NA objective lens. Equipped with an automated stage, the instrument is suitable for imaging multiple specimens in one go.
  • Zeiss Stemi V11 and Leica MZ 125 stereo microscopes: Two stereomicroscopes equipped with Canon DSLR cameras, which are used extensively in entomological and botanical projects.
  • Zeiss Axioskop and Olympus BH2: Versatile manual bright field compound microscopes that can be used for slide mounted specimens and sectioned material as well as small whole specimens.
  • Macro-photography stands: Equipped with Canon EOS DSLR cameras, a range of macro lenses (50mm, MP-E 65mm, 100mm) and a Stackshot controller, these stands are used for high-quality macrophotography.
  • Smartdrive SatScan: Custom build imaging system that can scan large areas, such as drawers of pinned insects, herbarium sheets, and slide mounted specimens. Used in conjunction with image segmentation software it allows rapid digitisation of specimens.

The Slide Digitisation Pilot

This project aims to digitise 100,000 slides in ten months, in order to develop and assess best practices for mass digitisation of the two million slides housed within the Museum.  

Museum staff

Lead: Dr Vladimir Blagoderov

Enquiries to: Rebecca Summerfield


  • Olympus BX61
  • Olympus BX63
  • Zeiss AxioZoom
  • Zeiss Axioscan z.1
  • Zeiss Stemi V11 and Leica MZ 125 stereo microscopes
  • Zeiss Axioskop
  • Olympus BH2 compound microscope
  • Macro-photography stands: Canon EOS camera (500-1100D) and a range of macro lenses (50mm, MP-E 65mm, 100mm)
  • Smartdrive SatScan