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Vaheat – Thermal Control for High-Resolution Microscopy



Precisely set and change the temperature in your field of view…Even when using oil-immersion objectives.



Key Features
VAHEAT is a precise temperature control unit for optical microscopes. It combines local heating with direct temperature sensing in the sample volume. This allows for fast and precise temperature adjustment with heating rates up to 100°C/s while maintaining highest temperature precision. Made for investigations of temperature-sensitive processes in life sciences and material research.

  • Extreme temperature stability on long (hours to days) and short (seconds to minutes) time scales down to 0.01°C (rms). External temperature variations due to air flow, fluid exchange etc. will be detected and compensated via direct temperature feedback inside the sample volume.
  • Extend your experimental temperature range to 100°C (standard range) or even 200°C (extended range) depending on your experimental needs. The standard range version is compatible with oil-immersion systems, while the extended range version can be operated with air objectives.
  • No optical aberrations up to 80°C with the highest numerical aperture objectives on the market. Perfectly suited for single molecule and super resolution studies using state-of-the-art methods (STORM, STED, TIRF, etc)

Conventional methods trying to solve this issue have severe drawbacks, such as limited maximum temperatures of approx. 40ºC, no fast temperature dynamics and associated long waiting times to achieve thermal equilibrium. Interherence’s Vaheat system with integrated heating element and a precise temperature sensor overcomes these problems. The Vaheat system consist of a control unit, a substrate holder and smart substrates.

Key Features of Vaheat System:

  • Room temperature up to 100°C (200°C upon request)
  • Heating rates up to 100 K/s.
  • Relative temperature precision of 0.1 K.
  • Fast thermal response allows precise temperature stabilisation even when using perfusion systems
  • Compatible with all conventional microscopes and made for live-cell imaging

The Control Unit

Vaheat controller for precise temperature control of microscope samples


  • Precisely control and measure the temperature in your sample volume
  • Define and start your individual temperature profiles
  • Set active temperature feedback
  • Send heat shocks to your sample
  • Change live the temperature via tuning knob
  • Integrate into your data-acquisition software using API


The Substrate Holder

Sample holder of Vaheat temperature control system

  • Size of substrate holder designed to fit any commercially available microscope
  • Footprint of a standard microscope slide (76mm x 26mm)
  • Instantly fits into user’s microscope
  • Compatible with most common inverted and upright microscope
  • Fast, convenient fitting and replacement of substrates
  • Precise magnetic clamp mechanism


Smart Substrates

Interherence’s substrates incorporate an integrated and calibrated temperature sensor with microheater. They provide custom sizes and options upon request. The standard version is equipped with a small pan for your sample. The smart substrates allow homogeneous heating in the field of view and provide precise temperature control.

  • 18 mm x 18 mm
  • 170 μm thick – ideally suited for high-resolution microscopy and live-cell imaging
  • Calibrated temperature sensor
  • Integrated microheater
  • Fast thermal response
  • Precise and direct measurement of sample volume temperature
  • Disposable, but may be used a number of times-substrates available in packs of 12


View/download the datasheet here.

The User Interface

The platform independent user interface (UI) allows to remotely control the VAHEAT device, program arbitrary temperature profiles and stream temperature data to the local hard disk. You can use it for precise and live control of sample temperature and current heating power. Simply connect the control unit via USB to the computer and start the measurement remotely. See the video below.

Technical Performance

Imaging Quality:

100x, NA=1.46, oil immersion objective








40x, NA=0.4, air objective








The imaging quality at elevated temperature up to 80°C is not altered using VAHEAT even when working with the highest numerical aperture objectives commercially available. To prove this, we experimentally determined the three-dimensional point spread function for various sample temperatures. The x-y resolution only increases slightly at temperature above 80°C due to increased particle diffusion. An elongation of the focus in z-direction arises with increasing temperature due to the temperature dependence of the immersion oil. This effect strongly depends on the material properties of the immersion medium and can be compensated by considering an effective change of optical path length. For air-spaced objectives the imaging quality is not affected.

Temperature Stability

Temperature fluctuations over time








The precise temperature probe within the smart substrates combined with a fast response time allows to compensate slow, as well as fast external temperature variation induced by e.g. an air flow or fluid exchange. This way, a precise long term temperature stabilization down to 0.01 °C (rms) over hours to days becomes feasible. Local management of the temperature is also crucial to achieve a high mechanical stability and to avoid any drifts.

Heating Rates

Temperature Step Response








The local heating and feedback mechanism enable well-controlled, fast temperature changes inside the field of view. Heating rates up to 100 °C/s are viable with small heat loads (e.g. thin films) attached. For liquids, heating rates can reach 40 °C/s. The profile mode allows to set heating and cooling rates between 100 °C/s and 0.1 °C/h.


Live cell imaging:

Living organisms are highly sensitive to changes in their environmental conditions, especially to temperature. VAHEAT ensures reliable and precise temperature control while transfer and during imaging. Investigating temperature sensitive processes of cellular behavior, such as Ca2+ activity in multicellular tumor spheroids or thermal stimulation of neurons has never been this easy.

Exploit VAHEAT ‘s capabilities as micro stage top incubator.

Cell Biology | Neuroscience | Medicine | Stage Top Incubator


The melting point of double stranded DNA can range between 60°C and 90°C depending on the sequence and strand length. Observation of DNA dynamics close to or even above the melting point using a high-resolution microscope were so far not possible with conventional heating stages. VAHEAT offers the unique possibility to study DNA and its association and dissociation behaviour optically.

DNA strand assembling from different elements. 3D illustration







Physics | Molecular Motors | Sequencing







VAHEAT is intrinsically compatible with microfluidics. A microfluidic chamber such as a PDMS mold can be directly mounted on the smart substrates with the integrated temperature probe. This way, the temperature of the injected liquid can be directly measured and adjusted. Due to the fast thermal response of the system in-situ mixing of different, not temperature controlled liquids becomes possible without expensive and bulky equipment.

Nanotechnology | Biochemistry | Biotechnology

Phase Transitions







Diffusion of single nanoparticles in complex environments such as lipid membranes is highly sensitive to temperature. Reliable temperature control and precise readout is a key element for quantitative studies. The temperature probe integrated into the smart substrates not only ensures reliable measurements conditions but is even capable of sensing phase transition in thin layers.

Crystallization and Nucleation | Phase Transition | Melting Point Analysis


Cellular function as well as inter-cellular communication depend on temperature. Especially neuroscientific experiments critically rely on precise and accurate control of the environmental conditions, examples include studies on the synaptic function, its plasticity or the propagation of action potentials. Here, VAHEAT provides an excellent solution to perform fluorescence based or even patch-clamp experiments at user defined temperatures without the need of bulky incubation chambers.






Live Cell Imaging | Medicine | Neuroscience


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is not only highly sensitive to small thermal drifts or vibrations but also to slight changes in the electric potential close to the cantilever. VAHEAT complies with these high requirements for temperature control. The local heating mechanism avoids any thermal drifts or fluctuations while the all-analogue electronic circuit design reduces electronic noise to a minimum. The mode DIRECT was implemented to further reduce the electronic noise in the sample volume and to allow high-precision AFM measurements.






Material Science | Live-Cell Imaging | Surface Topology


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