Lambda 421
Optical Beam Combining System

The Lambda 421 beam combiner is a new, patented, concept for combining separate light sources with different spectra into a single common output beam. Each separate light source is collimated before entering the optical path through a bandpass filter. The filters for each light source also function as mirrors that reflect the collimated beams from the previous light sources. In the diagram below the optical paths are outlined for each position including the reflections that occur:

Optical path for each light source position from 0 through 3. The position number of the light sources are labeled based on the number of total reflections.

Traditionally, combining more than two light sources required the use of a dichroic ladder. Dichroic mirrors, which switch from transmission to reflection at one point in the spectrum, allow the combining of separate light sources, provided that those sources do not have overlapping wavelengths. The downside of this approach is that light sources cannot be easily changed.

Dichroic ladders also demand careful attention to the order in which the light sources are introduced into the optical path to avoid having the light blocked by the next dichroic in line. Typically, additional bandpass filters must be added in front of each light source before the dichroic, to select the desired range of wavelengths for each source. Each filter and dichroic used in the ladder decreases the total light output of the system.

  • Versatile 4-channel ultra high-speed LED light source
  • Unique optical design allows for simple spectral flexibility
  • Wide variety of available LED’s between 340-900nm
  • Fluorescent microscopy
  • Calcium imaging
  • FURA
  • Optogenetics
  • High speed wavelength selection

The Lambda 421 was designed to keep the size of the beam combiner small and the optical path short and efficient. Thin-film bandpass filters, such as Semrock’s STR, reflect greater than 90% of out-of-band light. If the band pass of each light source does not overlap, it is possible to use the filters for both attenuation and reflection of the light from the other sources. By arranging the filters and sources into a pentagon, we were able to combine four light sources in a compact design with lower losses than previously achievable. As an added benefit, the last position in the optical train does not require any filter, since no other input reflects from that position. This input can be used with any sort of light source as long as you are aware of the possible losses if there are filters in use that overlap this light source. The fifth side of the pentagon becomes the output for the combined sources. The filters are easily exchangeable and are installed on small sliders inside the core of the pentagon. Filters and associated light sources can be arranged in any order around the pentagon.

  • The light from position #0 goes directly to the device output without being reflected. This position might be preferred for the source with the greatest desired output.
  • The filter for the fourth light source is not used as a reflective surface and could be omitted if a broad-band source were desired.
  • In configurations with fewer than 4 light sources, sources should be filled from lowest to highest number of reflections to ensure the greatest light output.
  • The optical path for each input is tilted by 18 degrees relative to the filter for that port. This will cause a small shift in the band pass toward shorter wavelengths. While it would be ideal to have a coating optimized for this application, we have found that stock -STR filters can be used if you correct for the shift in the band pass when selecting the filters. This lends itself to combining narrow-band sources such as LEDs and lasers with a broad-band sources such as an arc lamps or white light LEDs. In the case of LEDs, wavelengths can be shuttered at the speed of the individual source. Sutter Instrument HPX and TLED products can switch in 10-25 microseconds respectively, making the Lambda 421 one of, if not the fastest wavelength switcher on the market. The Lambda optical beam combiner is designed for flexibility and expandability. Should your illumination need change over time a simple configuration change and possibly additional filters can produce an entirely different output.

Lambda 421 - LED Spectra Options (Click on image to enlarge)


Output Range
(330 nm - 960 nm) Depending the LED's selected for use

Turn ON/OFF time: <25 µs

Noise/Short term stability

LED Life
> 50,000 hours

Control Box Dimensions
15.75 in x 11 in x 7.5 in | 40 cm x 27.9 cm x 19.05 cm

17.8 lbs | 8.07 kg

120/240 Volts
50/60 Hertz power line

*Patent No. 8,988,799

RoHS Compliant

Lambda 421 CE Certificate

US Prices > Lambda 421
International prices vary by country. Please contact your local distributor or Sutter Instrument for a quotation. Prices subject to change without notice.

Includes Lambda 421 with liquid light guide, cables, and power cord. The instrument accepts up to 4 LED modules (listed below) and can easily be reconfigured. The LED modules consist of the LED and the appropriate Semrock®-STR excitation filter for the output of the LED.

Mounting adapters for Nikon, Zeiss, Leica and Olympus microscopes are available. Please see the Microscope Adapters Page or contact Sutter Instrument for pricing and further information.
Catalog Number Description Price
LB-421 Lambda 421 Optical Beam Combiner and controller $ 11,244

LED modules for Lambda 421
Catalog Number Description Price
OBC-340 LED, 340 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-365 LED, 365 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-385 LED, 385 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-410 LED, 410 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-440 LED, 440 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-460 LED, 460 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-480 LED, 480 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-506 LED, 506 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-530 LED, 530 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-561 LED, 561 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-590 LED, 590 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-617 LED, 617 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-630 LED, 630 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-660 LED, 660 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-740 LED, 740 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-810 LED, 810 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-850 LED, 850 nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-940 LED, 940nm for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747
OBC-W5 LED, White Light for Optical Beam Combiner $ 1,747

Lambda HPX-L5
Lambda 10-2
Lambda 10-3
Lambda VF-5 / VF-1


Lambda 421 Spectra Options

Lambda 421 Operation Manual

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