We report on the application of a novel all-solid-state violet laser diode source to confocal microscopy. The source has the potential to replace argon ion lasers in a range of fluorescence based imaging systems. Improvements in system performance and image quality through the use of anamorphic prisms to modify the beam profile have been characterised. These modifications have permitted high quality, optically sectioned images to be obtained from laser diodes operating around 406nm. Living mammalian cells stained with a range of biologically significant fluorophores have been imaged. In addition, it has been shown that at this wavelength it is possible to image dyes that normally require excitation with UV argon laser lines.
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