NIEF is a core research facility that serves the academia and industry of Puerto Rico, Latin American, and the Caribbean by providing advanced technology and training in confocal microscopy and electrophysiology.

Confocal Microscopy

This technology makes possible the acquisition of fluorescence-based images of cellular structures and molecular events from biological samples and nanomaterials. For example, cellular organelle structures and neuronal action potentials, as well as intracellular calcium oscillations and drug delivery of nanoparticles, can be visualized with high temporal and spatial resolution.

Patch Clamp Electrophysiology

It is a versatile instrument to measure membrane action potentials and ion channel currents as well as the activity of single ion channels from any isolated cells or cellular tissues.

Imaging and Electrophysiology

The coupling of confocal microscopy with patch-clamp electrophysiology enables simultaneous acquisition of fluorescence images and bioelectrical signals from biological cells and tissues.


NIEF’s technologies can be used in a series of applications, for example:

  • In vivo ultra-deep and high-speed imaging. For example, biochemical reactions, dynamics of biological processes, and cell interactions in deep areas within living organisms can be visualized at great speed and resolution.
  • Simultaneous photostimulation and image acquisition at high-speed can be realized such as photoactivation, photoconversion, FRAP, FLIP, and photo caged-compounds.
  • Simultaneous IR excitation imaging. Two different probes can be simultaneous excited with IR light and visualized.
  • Digital videos of many important cellular functions such as muscle contraction, cell motility, cell division, and cytokinesis.
  • Nanomedicine research. The drug delivery of therapeutic nanomaterials into cells can be visually monitored.
  • Ion channel research. Ionic currents from ligand- and voltage-gated ion channels can be recorded with high fidelity as well as optical action potentials from any excitable cells.
  • Neuroscience research. The structure and function of neuronal circuits in rats can be simultaneous analyzed for example the action potential firing of multiple neurons in a brain tissue.

Types of Samples

NIEF’s equipment can be used in:

  • Primary & recombinant cells (e.g. neurons, cardiomyocytes, yeasts, bacteria, HEK, CHO)
  • Cellular tissues (e.g. brain and heart slices, diaphragm, nephron, pancreas)
  • Small animal models (e.g. zebrafish, mouse, rat, guinea pig)
  • Nanomaterials (e.g. carbon fiber, nanoparticle)