Specialized Tools for Electrophysiology and Cell Biology Research

PC-501A - Patch Clamp Amplifier

Product Summary

A workhorse patch clamp amplifier equally at home in research and teaching labs.


  • Independent V-hold and I-hold circuitry
  • Three current clamp response speeds increase stability of large membrane clamps
  • 4-pole low-pass Bessel filter
  • Internally generated test signals
  • Variable duration zap circuit

The PC-501A Patch Clamp is a workhorse, equally at home in research and teaching labs. Both single channel measurements and whole cell studies are easily handled with this modestly priced instrument.


Four resistive-feedback headstages are available for the PC-501A:

  • 5101-10G (10 GΩ) headstage for recording single channel currents up to ±1 nA. Noise level measured at 1 kHz is 60 fA.
  • 5101-01G (1 GΩ) headstage for whole cell studies with currents to ±10 nA.
  • 5101-100M (100 MΩ) headstage for whole cell studies with currents to ±100 nA.
  • 5101-10GB (10 GΩ) headstage modified for bilayer capacitances up to 250 pF. Maximum current is ±1 nA.

Operating Modes

V Clamp Mode:
Input is clamped to a maximum of ±1 volt. Commands are the sum of the holding voltage and any external input signals.

Zero Current Mode:
Bridges the voltage and current clamp modes. All commands are inactive except the junction zero, which functions in this case as an offset control for the electrode and tip potentials associated with the pipette.

I Clamp Mode:
In the current clamp mode, active commands are the current hold and any external command input signals, summed. Clamp stability is enhanced with the selection of three clamp speeds.

Compensation Controls

Voltage Offsets (including junction potentials)
Automatically compensated with the auto zero or manually with the junction zero.

Capacity Compensation
Paired controls; fast (0-5 µsec), medium (0-2 msec) and slow (0-20 msec) compensate the current transient caused by a step command signal. Each pair has a separate control for amplitude and time constant.

Series Resistance
Signal errors contributed by the electrode (access) resistance in whole cell recording are subtracted from the output with the series R comp control. The compensated resistance (0-100 MΩ) is read from a ten turn dial.

Leak Subtract
Used to compensate leakage current due to the voltage drop across the seal (shunt) resistance.

Outputs/Signal Conditioning

The membrane current signal Im is bandwidth limited by a 4-pole Bessel filter with six frequency cut-offs and can be bypassed to obtain the full 10 kHz bandwidth. Gain is selected with a 7 position switch and scaled to the headstage resistor.

Additional outputs are Vm x 10 (membrane voltage at x10 gain) active in current clamp mode and Vc x 10, the sum of all commands at x10 gain. Rear panel outputs include; gain telegraph, a DC signal which communicates to a data acquisition system the Im output gain level and the headstage in use, and sync output, a signal to synchronize an oscilloscope or computer with one of the internal test signals.

Voltammetry with the PC-501A/V

Simple modifications to the PC-501A make it suitable for voltammetric measurements. They include increasing the holding voltage potential to ±1 volt and the external voltage signal level to ±2 volts maximum. Internal switches can be installed to allow switching between normal (patch) and voltammetry operation.

5101-10G Headstage With 10 GΩ resistor for single channel recording. Maximum current ± 1 nA
5101-01G Headstage With 1 GΩ resistor for whole cell currents to ± 10 nA
5101-100M Headstage With 100 MΩ resistor for whole cell currents to ± 100 nA
5101-10GB Headstage With 10 GΩ modified for bilayer capacitances up to 250 pF. Maximum current is ±1 nA.
Noise Measured with an 8-pole Bessel filter and 10 GO headstage, input open.
  • DC to 1 kHz - 0.06 pA RMS
  • DC to 5 kHz - 0.20 pA RMS
  • DC to 10 kHz - 0.40 pA RMS
High Frequency Boost Increases bandwidth to 10 kHz. Front panel adjustable with Speed Test for 1 GΩ and 10 GΩ headstages.
Command Input Applied voltage attenuated by Command Sensitivity, Max input ± 10 V
Command Sensitivity Attenuates CMD IN by x0.1, x0.01 or x0.001.
V Hold Adjustable from zero to ± 200 mV with 10 turn control.
Junction Zero Adjustable between ± 100 mV with 10 turn control.
Test Pulse 100 Hz square wave, amplitude at the electrode dependent on Command Sensitivity:
  • 100 mV @ x0.1
  • 10 mV @ x0.01
  • 1.0 mV @ x0.001
Zap 1.5 V pulse with duration adjustable from 0.1 to 10 msec
Command Input
  • ± 1.0 nA max with Command Sensitivity @ x0.1
  • ± 100 pA max with Command Sensitivity @ x0.01
  • ± 10 pA max with Command Sensitivity @ x0.001
Series Resistance Compensation Zero to 100 MΩ, read from 10 turn digital dial
Capacity Compensation Three ranges with amplitude and time constant adjustments:
  • Fast (0-5 µsec)
  • Medium (0-2 msec)
  • Slow (0-20 msec)
Leak Subtract Adjustable from:
  •  to 10 GΩ for 10 GΩ headstage
  •  to 1 GΩ for 1 GΩ headstage
  •  to 100 MΩ for 100 MΩ headstage
Im Output Four-pole Bessel filter with -3 dB frequencies at 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, and 5 kHz.
Pass Filter Outputs Bypass allows full 10 kHz bandwidth
Im (membrane current) Gain is adjustable in the range of:
  • 10 to 1000 mV/pA with 10 GΩ headstage
  • 1 to 100 mV/pA with 1 GΩ headstage
  • 0.1 to 10 mV/pA with 100 MΩ headstage
£Vcx 10 Sum of all commands (Vc +h, Junction Zero, Auto Zero and Series R) x 10
Vm x 10 Membrane Voltage x 10
Gain Telegraph Output On rear panel and compatible with acquisition software*
DC voltage scaled to Im:
  • From 3.0 to 4.2 Volts for 10 GΩ headstage, 0.2 V steps
  • From 1.6 to 2.8 Volts for 1 GΩ headstage, 0.2 V steps
  • From 0.2 to 1.4 Volts for 100 MΩ headstage, 0.2 V steps
Panel Meter 3-1/2 digit LCD provides DC or average readout of:
Vc + h In Sum of all commands and V Hold, ± 199.9 mV
£Vc Sum of all Commands, ± 199.9 mV
Vm Membrane voltage±199.9 mV (current clamp mode)
Im Membrane Current, ± 1999 pA
Control Unit 13.3 cm H x 43.2 cm W x 25.4 cm D
Headstage 5.7 cm x 2.9 cm x 2.5 cm with 1.8 m long cable
Mounting Rod 6.2 mm diameter x 6.3 cm L
Power 100 -130 VAC or 220-240 VAC, 50/60 Hz, 10 VA
Shipping Weight 11.4 kg (25.1 lbs)
Warranty Three years, parts & labor
* Axon pClamp and Instrutech Pulse

Rear Panel



  1. Purinergic P2X7 Receptors Mediate ATP-induced Saliva Secretion by the Mouse Submandibular Gland 
    Nakamoto T, Brown DA, Catalán MA, Gonzalez-Begne M, Romanenko VG, Melvin JE
    J Biol Chem. 2009 Feb 20;284(8):4815-22. Epub 2008 Dec 19
  2. Transient gain adjustment in the inferior colliculus is serotonin- and calcium-dependent 
    Miko IJ, Sanes DH
    Hear Res. 2009 May;251(1-2):39-50. Epub 2009 Feb 20
  3. Role of CuZn superoxide dismutase on carotid body function in heart failure rabbits 
    Ding Y, Li YL, Zimmerman MC, Davisson RL, Schultz HD
    Cardiovasc Res. 2009 Mar 1;81(4):678-85. Epub 2008 Dec 17
  4. Acute ethanol suppresses glutamatergic neurotransmission through endocannabinoids in hippocampal neurons 
    Basavarajappa BS, Ninan I, Arancio O
    J Neurochem. 2008 Nov;107(4):1001-13. Epub 2008 Sep 15
  5. Development of chloride homeostasis in albino and pigmented rat visual cortex neurons 
    Diykov D, Barmashenko G, Hoffmann KP
    Neuroreport. 2008 Mar 26;19(5):595-8
  6. Cytoskeletal regulation of calcium-permeable cation channels in the human syncytiotrophoblast: role of gelsolin 
    Nicolás Montalbetti1, Qiang Li, Gustavo A Timpanaro1, Silvia González-Perrett1, Xiao-Qing Dai, Xing-Zhen Chen and Horacio F Cantiello1, 
    J. Physiol., March 15, 2007; 579(3): 717 - 728
  7. Polycystin-2 Cation Channel Function Is under the Control of Microtubular Structures in Primary Cilia of Renal Epithelial Cells 
    Qiang Li, Nicolas Montalbetti, Yuliang Wu, Arnolt Ramos, Malay K. Raychowdhury, Xing-Zhen Chen, and Horacio F. Cantiello
    THE JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY VOL. 281, NO. 49, pp. 37566.37575, December 8, 2006
  8. Porin-Mediated Antibiotic Resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae: Ion, Solute, and Antibiotic Permeation through PIB Proteins with penB Mutations
    Melanie Olesky, Shuqing Zhao, Robert L. Rosenberg, and Robert A. Nicholas 
    Journal of Bacteriology, April 2006, p. 2300-2308, Vol. 188, No. 7
  9. GAP-Independent Termination of Photoreceptor Light Response by Excess Subunit of the cGMP-Phosphodiesterase
    Steven H. Tsang, Michael L. Woodruff, Ching-Kang Chen, Clyde Y. Yamashita, Marianne C. Cilluffo, Anjali L. Rao, Debora B. Farber, and Gordon L. Fain
    The Journal of Neuroscience, April 26, 2006 26(17):4472. 4480
  10. Halothane Directly Modifies Na and K Channel Activities in Cultured Human Alveolar Epithelial Cells 
    Roch A, Shlyonsky V, Goolaerts A, Mies F, Sariban-Sohraby S
    Mol Pharmacol. 2006 May;69(5):1755-62. Epub 2006 Jan 6
  11. Persistent Phosphorylation by Protein KinaseM Maintains Late-Phase Long-Term Potentiation
    Peter Serrano, Yudong Yao, and Todd Charlton Sacktor 
    The Journal of Neuroscience, February 23, 2005 " 25(8):1979 - 1984
  12. Alpha-actinin associates with polycystin-2 and regulates its channel activity 
    Qiang Li1, Nicolás Montalbetti, Patrick Y. Shen1, Xiao-Qing Dai1, Christopher I. Cheeseman1, Edward Karpinski1, Guanqing Wu, Horacio F. Cantiello, and Xing-Zhen Chen1
    Human Molecular Genetics 2005 14(12):1587-1603
  13. The Block of CFTR by Scorpion Venom is State-Dependent 
    Matthew D. Fuller, Zhi-Ren Zhang, Guiying Cui, and Nael A. McCarty, 
    Biophysical Journal Volume 89 December 2005 3960.3975
  14. Differentiation of Epithelial Na+ Channel Function AN IN VITRO MODEL
    Vadim Shlyonsky, Arnaud Goolaerts, Ronald Van Beneden, and Sarah Sariban-Sohraby
    J. Biol. Chem., Vol. 280, Issue 25, 24181-24187, June 24, 2005
  15. Activation of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 5 Has Direct Excitatory Effects and Potentiates NMDA Receptor Currents in Neurons of the Subthalamic Nucleus 
    Awad H, Hubert GW, Smith Y, Levey AI, Conn PJ
    J Neurosci. 2000 Nov 1;20(21):7871-9
  16. Role of Potassium Channels in Amyloid-Induced Cell Death 
    Colom LV, Diaz ME, Beers DR, Neely A, Xie WJ, Appel SH
    J Neurochem. 1998 May;70(5):1925-34



Customers from Europe and Australia can use the Multi Channel Systems - Online Shop to order Warner products or create quotes.

Order No. Model No. Product Description USA Price Order
64-0007 PC-501A/10 PC-501A patch clamp with 5101-10G headstage (10 GΩ) Login Login
64-0008 PC-501A/9 PC-501A patch clamp with 5101-01G headstage (1 GΩ) Login Login
64-0009 PC-501A/8 PC-501A patch clamp with 5101-100M headstage (100 MΩ) Login Login
64-0010 PC-501A/10B PC-501A patch clamp with 5101-10GB bilayer headstage (10 GΩ) Login Login
64-0012 PC-501AV/9 PC-501A patch clamp with 5101-01G headstage for voltammetry (1 GΩ) Login Login
64-0013 PC-501AV/8 PC-501A patch clamp with 5101-100M headstage for voltammetry (100 MΩ) Login Login
Electrode Holders (ordered separately)
64-0821 QSW-A10P Q Series electrode holder, port, straight style, fits 1.0 mm capillary, Ag wire Login Login
64-0822 QSW-A12P Q Series electrode holder, port, straight style, fits 1.2 mm capillary, Ag wire Login Login
64-0823 QSW-A15P Q Series electrode holder, port, straight style, fits 1.5 mm capillary, Ag wire Login Login
64-0978 QSW-A17P Q Series electrode holder, port, straight style, fits 1.7 mm capillary, Ag wire Login Login
64-0824 QSW-A20P Q Series electrode holder, port, straight style, fits 2.0 mm capillary, Ag wire Login Login
64-0455 PV-830 Power Line Conditioner 1000 VA, 120 VAC 60HZ Login Login
64-0456 PV-830CE Power Line Conditioner 1000 VA, 220 VAC 50/60HZ Login Login
460-7032 BNC-2 BNC to BNC cable, 2 feet (Pomona) Login Login
460-7013 BNC-6 BNC to BNC cable, 6 feet (Pomona) Login Login
Data Acquisition
89-5048 Chartmaster Login Login
89-5035 LIH 8+8 LIH 8+8 computer interface, 90-250 VAC, 50/60 Hz, CE Login Login
Additional/Replacement Headstages
64-0016 5101-100M Headstage for PC-501A (100 MΩ) Login Login
64-0015 5101-01G Headstage for PC-501A (1GΩ) Login Login
64-0014 5101-10G Headstage for PC-501A (10 GΩ) Login Login
64-0017 5101-10GB Headstage for PC-501A (10 GΩ, bilayer) Login Login
Replacement Parts
64-0020 MC-100M Model cell (100 MΩ) for PC-501A Login Login
64-0019 MC-01G Model cell (1 GΩ) for PC-501A Login Login
64-0018 MC-10G Model cell (10 GΩ) for PC-501A Login Login
64-0021 MC-10GB Model cell (10 GΩ, bilayer) for PC-501A Login Login
460-8091 3U Rack handle Login Login

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