Posted in | Optical Filters

Lambda 10-3 Optical Filter Changer from Sutter Instrument

The Lambda 10-3 is the latest generation of Sutter's high performance filter wheel changers. The controller now offers faster switching times, synchronous independent control of 3 filter wheels and 2 shutters (or 2 filter wheels and 3 shutters), and expanded communication interface options. Recent advances in motor technology allow the Lambda 10-3 to achieve switching times of 40msec between adjacent filters. In addition, the controller commands can now be accessed via USB, serial, parallel, and keypad interfaces.

The Lambda 10-3 controls a variety of standard Sutter filter wheels including the popular 10 position 25 mm wheel, a lighter 4 position 25 mm wheel, a 10 position 32 mm wheel, 5 position 50 mm wheel, and a compact belt-drive 4 position wheel. The embedded controllers automatically detect the equipment installed and the source of the external commands, so there are no jumper wires or switches to set. There are seven speed settings available to optimize the rate of movement in accordance with the load of the wheel. The Lambda 10-3 can operate up to 40 msec switching time with the traditional 25 mm filter wheel as well as our newer, high-speed 32 mm version. The 4 position wheel (LB10-NWHS4) provides additional speed and can achieve switching times of less than 33 msec. Nearly all of our filter wheels employ a direct drive system. This design eliminates problems with belt slippage and backlash, assuring that our wheels are exceptionally robust.

Each wheel will accommodate filters from 1 to 9 mm in thickness, allowing multiple filters to be used in each position. For instance, this allows users to insert a neutral density filter along with an interference filter in a single position. We have designed the body of the filter wheel with a trap to eliminate light scatter. For added stability, non-emission filter wheels come with a sturdy support stand and 12 inch rods. In addition to filter wheels, the Lambda 10-3 controller supports our patented stepper-motor controlled SmartShutter® as well as the Uniblitz® shutter. Either shutter can be mounted directly onto the wheel, providing a compact wheel/shutter package for systems with mounting contraints.

Both shuttered and non-shuttered filter wheels can be installed directly on the microscope in a number of locations: excitation, emission, Keller ports, and the trinocular head. Up to two excitation and/or neutral density filter wheels can be used with the Lambda LS xenon light source and liquid light guide, in vibration sensitive systems. The SmartShutter can be mounted independently from the wheel in any location in the light path (including the Lambda LS and Lambda DG-4/DG-5), and driven in a stand-alone configuration by the Lambda 10-3 controller. The microscope specific adapters necessary for any configuration of wheels and shutter are listed on the Microscope Adapters page.

The Lambda 10-3 commands are a superset of the Lambda 10-2, thus integrating all previously available features into the new design. Additional commands are incorporated to access the third wheel as well as the special SmartShutter features. These configurations can be programmed through the keypad making it easy to use the previous shutter commands to access the SmartShutter specific functions such as the neutral density or the 'soft' shutter mode.

Filter selection can be made directly from the keypad or from a computer via the serial, parallel, or USB port. The controller determines the shortest route to the selected filter and an acceleration/deceleration algorithm minimizes vibrations during the movement of the wheel. Internal sensors ensure correct filter positioning and the current filter position is displayed on the front panel. The serial port accepts RS232 level signals through a DB-9 connector. USB input is made through a standard connector and can be directly connected to a PC USB port.

The universal power supply will automatically switch to accommodate the line voltage - no user adjustment is required. An optional liquid light guide is available for applications requiring absolute vibration isolation, and/or spatial illumination uniformity.

Getting Faster Filter Switching Times with Many Filters Installed

The Sutter filter wheel systems have always been optimized for fast switching of a lightly loaded wheel. When many thick filters are installed, the added mass requires an increase in the time required to switch from one filter to another. Switching times improve significantly with filters made on a thin substrate that do not require a thick layer of additional glass to obtain the desired blocking. Semrock® has the required coating technology to offer filters with substrates down to 2 mm in thickness.

We have taken the additional step of designing a special threaded ring that Semrock can install in place of their typical plain filter cells. Filters mounted in these rings can be threaded directly into the body of our filter wheels when our standard filter cups have been removed. Semrock filters actually weigh less than the filter cup and retaining ring normally used to mount filters in the Sutter wheels. Thus, if you remove our filter cups and mount the new threaded filters directly in the wheel, even a fully loaded wheel will be able to run at speeds that previously could only be used with just 2 filters installed.

The STR Semrock filters are available in both 25 mm and 32 mm versions and should be purchased directly from Semrock. If you are installing these filters in a sutter wheel that has filter cups, you will need to remove the cup from the position you intend to use to mount the threaded filter. When installing the new threaded filters, you will want to use the new wrench designed for this purpose.


  • As fast as 40 msec between adjacent filters (10 position wheel)
  • As fast as 30 msec between adjacent filters (3 position wheel)
  • Can control three wheels and two shutters or two wheels and three shutters
  • Can accommodate SmartShutter® and Uniblitz® shutter
  • 7 speed settings to optimize movement
  • Command set compatible with Lambda 10-2
  • Automatically detects installed hardware
  • Serial, parallel, and USB interfaces
  • Can control a variety of 25 mm, 32 mm, and 50 mm wheels
  • Chopper drives
  • Universal power supply

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