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Manual Micromanipulators


Manual Patch-Clamp Micromanipulators

  • Piezo-Controlled Micromanipulator Assembly for Precision Control
  • Ideal for GibraltarTM Microscope Platforms
  • Option for 150 or 300 µm of Piezo Travel


  • Solid-State Stability of Piezoelectric Control
  • Negligible Drift of
  • Adjustable Set Stops Allow Easy Pipette Exchange
  • Manual Coarse Control Range: 25 mm
  • Fine Control Optional Ranges: 150 or 300 µm (Minimum Resolution: 60 nm)
Travel 150 or 300 µm 25 mm
Resolution 32 threads/inch
Speed Directly Proportional to Rate of Knob Turns N/A
Operator Interface Axis Control Unit Manual Micrometer
Manipulator Dimensions (L×W×H) 5" × 6.2" × 7.5"
(127 mm × 157 mm × 190.5 mm)


Thorlabs' PCS-5000 series of micromanipulators offer excellent control of pipette manipulation for electrophysiology research. Our micromanipulators, except for the PCS-520N, use piezoelectric (PZT) control of translation stages to provide smooth and precise movement of the pipette head without inducing drift. The PCS-5000 micromanipulators provide superior performance compared to other standard control techniques. Hydraulic manipulators succumb to drift through fluid expansion, contraction, and leakage. Mechanical manipulators are not predictable on the scale necessary for electrophysiology research and can transmit fingertip vibrations to the pipette. Motorized lead screws may also lead to uncertainty through inconsistent motion and backlash in the screws. For applications which do not require piezo translation, we offer the PCS-520N as a purely mechanical micromanipulator assembly.

The piezoelectric control employed by our micromanipulators provides smooth and predictable movement with no backlash and minimal drift (

The PCS-5200, PCS-5300, and PCS-5400 assemblies include a axis control unit and 60 V power supply. The power supply can support up to two micromanipulator assemblies. Since a single power supply can support two of our micromanipulators, we offer the PCS-5200N, PCS-5300N, and PCS-5400N assemblies without a power supply.

Item #Manual
PCS-520N 25 mm - - - No PZT actuators or motors. Provides basic mechanical-manual positioning
25 mm 150 µm 150 µm 150 µm All three translation stages provide 150 µm PZT fine motion
25 mm 150 µm 150 µm 300 µm Two translation stages provide 150 µm PZT fine motion. One translation stage provides 300 µm PZT fine motion. Recommended system for working in slices where longer PZT travel on the approach axis is required
25 mm 300 µm 300 µm 300 µm All three translation stages provide 300 µm of PZT fine motion. Highest PZT range for working in thick slices where maximum flexibility is needed.


Micromanipulator Assembly

Thorlabs’ Micromanipulator Assembly is composed of three linear translation stages, two rotary stages with lockable stops, one set of angle brackets, and headstage mounting plate. The cross roller bearings of this assembly form a stiff and precise single-axis bearing system with high load capacity and minimal friction. The PZT actuators yield 60 µm resolution, virtually no heating, zero backlash, and negligible drift (

The headstage mounting plate easily accommodates headstages and pipettes. Note that the Axon CV-203B and HEKA EPC-9 headstages may be directly bolted to the headstage mounting plate. Other headstages may be mounted to the mounting plate by adding the appropriate mounting holes.

The headstage pivot allows for simple optimization of the pipette angle of approach on either an inverted or upright microscope. Additionally, the PCS-500-SSH Steep/Shallow Headstage Adapter may be used in applications requiring very steep or shallow angles. Due to the symmetric design of our micromanipulator assembly, this system can be easily modified to provide a left-sided or orthogonal approach axis without needing a special adapter kit.

Adjustable Set Stops

The headstage pivot allows any angle of approach for the pipette. The integrated adjustable stop mechanism allows for the approach angle to be repeatedly set with a high degree of reliably, giving the user a convenient mechanism to change out pipettes and quickly reset to the appropriate approach angle. Thorlabs’ micromanipulator assembly has two rotation plates, each with its own individual adjustable stop. The image to the left shows the adjustable stop mechanism for our rotation stages.

When the appropriate approach angle has been established, the stops can be set by loosening the setscrews of the locking ring and rotating the ring until the pin is in physical contact with the brass block. When both stops are set, the assembly can be rotated clear of the microscope to exchange pipettes and then quickly reset to the appropriate angle (see image above). This mechanism provides a quick and easy method to exchange pipettes and return to working condition, limiting the amount of time for position readjustmentsand increasing efficiency in collecting data.


Axis Control Unit

The axis control unit allows the user to adjust pipette placement by hand with smooth and repeatable movement. Each of the three stages that comprise our micromanipulator assembly can connect to one of the potentiometer knobs on the axis control unit. For convenience of system configuration, the user may choose any knob to control any particular stage. This allows the user to set the axis control unit in the most intuitive configuration for the system.

Each knob controls a three-turn potentiometer, which regulates voltage to the piezo flexure assembly and thus its position. Three turns on the potentiometer corresponds to full scale of the piezo assembly, yielding a resolution that is 0.04% of the total piezo travel range. For example, a 150 µm piezo stage will have a 60 nm resolution provided by the axis control unit. Additionally, the user may set the potentiometer friction to suit experimental needs.

Power Supply

Our micromanipulator power supply provides a regulated, low noise, 60 V output for the axis control unit. Two voltage outputs enable the power supply to regulate two axis control units. This allows the user to run two micromanipulation assemblies from the same power source, saving both money and space. This power supply accepts an input power range of 100 – 240 V at 50/60 Hz.


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