3D Imaging Data Cube

A large variety of highly specialised types of microscopes have been developed in recent decades. The range comprises traditional optical microscopes, but also fluorescence, electron and atomic force microscopes. So it has become difficult and time-consuming for newcomers, students and even experts in this field to obtain an overview of the technologies, or even to keep up with them.

This created the demand for a means of providing an overview of the different microscope types and their key data (e.g. resolution) To this end, it was necessary to develop graphics-based software which enables the different microscope classes (just 1x “classes”) to be visualised easily and in a fun manner. They can also be compared to one another and more detailed information can be found.

SCS’s Solution

An easy-to-learn teaching tool was developed for students in cooperation with the Electron Microscopy Centre of the ETH Zurich  (http://www.scopem.ethz.ch). It visualises the different microscope classes as a semi-transparent 3D cube (Imaging Data Cubes) in the most frequently used web browsers. The cube axes characterise the achievable resolution limits: lateral, axial, and chronological.


Target Group
Students, microscope rookies, microscopy users, structural researchers


  • ‘Easy to learn’
  • ‘Engaging’ – it should be fun
  • ‘Effective’ – quick recognition of the boundaries and limits of the different types of microscopes
  • Technical information
    • HTML page with JavaApplet
    • 3D display with Java3D (Internet Explorer) und WebGL (Firefox, Safari, Chrome, …)

The mouse and/or keyboard is used to navigate through the 3D cube (rotate, move, zoom). The multi-dimensional parameter space can be searched using simple filter criteria and supplemented with new methods of measurement.  An HTML page with further information on costs, manufacturers etc. is shown for each method.

Customer Benefits

The ’3D Imaging Data Cube’ assists the students in getting to know the various types of microscopes and grasp relationships. They can study the microscopes in greater depth in a fun way and prepare for their exams efficiently. Furthermore, they can find complementary techniques and imaging methods without having to remember the numerical values.

For customers of EMEZ who wish to have a sample tested, the ’3D Data Cube” can serve as a starting point to find a suitable or alternative method of measurement for their sample.

Further Uses

The display of complex multi-dimensional data as a 3D cube in a web browser is generic. It can be easily used for other applications in order to make complex content easily understood, both optically and haptically.

Contact at SCS
Christof Bühler

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