Types of Microscopes and their Uses

Types of Microscopes and their Uses

For an aspiring microbiologist, it is very important to understand the types of microscopes and their uses. The following article will cover some information related to the kinds of microscopes and their uses that help one see specimens that are not visible by the naked eye.
The weapon for a microbiologist is his microscope. Without a microscope; microbiologists, clinical researchers, scientists, etc. are lost. The microscope is an important part of a biology lab that helps one observe specimen that are impossible for the naked human eye to see. Microscopes help magnify objects 1000x their size and study a biological specimen in detail. The most important tool that helps in performing various experiments, studies, clinical trails and industrial applications is a microscope. There are many different types of microscopes and their uses vary according to the type.

Microscopes have played an important part in the field of science. Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), a Dutch tradesman and scientist should be credited for the invention of this magic instrument. His crude microscope helped detect invisible animalcules, that is single-celled organisms. This bought the attention of many scholars towards the field of microbiology. Thus, began the search for bacteria, virus, fungi, protozoa as well as the recent discovery of DNA. This proves that microscopes are the most important tools for any scientist in not just the field of life sciences, but also useful in chemistry, metallurgy and many other scientific fields. In this Buzzle article, we shall learn about some of the different kinds of microscopes and their uses in short. So, without wasting more time, let us begin our quest to know more about microscopes and their uses.

The following list contains some of the most widely used microscopes.

Different Kinds of Microscopes and their Uses
Micro-objects are magnified manifold by microscopes as you will understand from the microscope diagram and functions. There have been major discoveries due to different types of microscopes used in biology. Some of the commonly used microscopes are as follows:

Light Microscope

The light microscope is also called the optical microscope. This is also a type of compound microscope that is used to view microorganisms. The light microscope has different lens that help magnify images of the microorganism or specimens loaded on the stage. The eyepieces have a magnification power of 10x or 16x. The light microscopes are the types of microscopes used in anatomy and physiology to observe small animals, plants, metal samples, and microorganisms like bacteria in detail. The light microscope can magnify a specimen about 1500x and used in many areas of biology, anatomy and physiology.

This microscope uses visible light and a system of lenses to magnify the images of the samples manifold. The basic type of optical or light microscopes is very simple. However, many complex designs have been invented that helps give better resolution images. Thus, light microscopes have been divided into two different configurations: simple microscope (one lens) and compound microscope.

Simple Microscope
A simple microscope or single lens microscope uses just one lens for magnification of the sample. It is the original light microscope that is now considered primitive. It uses a single, convex lens that is commonly observed in the loupe.

Compound Microscope
The most commonly used microscope and the integral part of a school or college lab is the compound microscope. This compound microscope uses two optical parts, called the ocular lens and the objective lens. The compound microscope can provide about 2000X magnification. Thus, compound microscopes are the types of microscopes used in biology to observe bacterial, algal, protozoa as well as animal and plant cells.

These microscopes are heavier and larger than simple microscopes. These microscopes collect the light from the sample with the help of multiple lenses. A separate set of lenses is used to focus the light into the eye (or camera) to form an image. There are different types of compound microscopes. Some of the basic types are discussed below:

Standard Compound Light Microscope
This microscope consists of an eyepiece lens that is in line with the revolving nose piece. The nose piece holds two or more objective lenses. The light passes from the stage through a hole into the sample. From the sample it passes to the lenses. The images are enlarge 4X, 10X, 40X or 100X according to the objective lenses fitted on the revolving nose piece.

Inverted Microscope
An inverted microscope is actually an upside-down microscope. This involves viewing the sample from an inverted position that helps the viewer see an upright image of the sample. This microscope is useful for viewing liquid cell cultures. Also helps viewing thick or large specimens clearly.

Stereo Microscope
Dissecting microscope or stereo microscopes have low magnification power. These too are types of light microscopes that help in observing specimens that are a bit larger in size. It contains two optical paths that are at different angles and help the user see the specimen in three dimensions. The dissecting microscopes are the types of microscopes used in anatomy and physiology for carrying out microsurgery, dissection, fine repair, sorting as well as forensics. The advantage of dissecting microscope is that it can be used on living samples but it has a low magnification power.

Metallurgical Microscope
A metallurgical microscope is a microscope used to observe metal, plastic, ceramic as well as other material samples. They help in observing the surface structure, metal fatigue, etc.

UV Microscope
A UV microscope uses UV light to produce an image that is twice the resolution seen in visible light microscopy. Mercury arc or xenon burner is used as the source of UV light. As UV light is harmful to human eye, a digital sensor or photographic film is produce to help observe the images.

Fluorescence Microscope
Fluorescence microscope uses high-energy, short-wavelenght light that excites the electrons of certain molecules present within the sample. This causes the electrons to shift into a higher orbit and when they come back to their original energy levels, they emit low energy, long wavelength light. This light is within the visible spectrum that helps in formation of an image.

Digital Microscope
A digital microscope uses optical lenses as well as CCD/ CMOS sensors. It provides a 1000x magnification power. It is used to achieve high quality recorded images of the specimen. The commonly used digital microscope has a 15 inch monitor and 2 million pixel camera. The digital CCD camera is attached to the microscope that is in turn connected to an LCD monitor or computer.

Apart from these light or optical microscopes, there are other microscopes that are categorized based on the lighting techniques. Some of these microscopes are mentioned below:

Dark-field Microscope
Dark-field microscope is used to observe live spirochetes. This microscope uses a special condenser lens that helps scattering light. This causes it to reflect the light off the specimen at an angle. The result is such that any light object is seen on a dark background.

Phase Contrast Microscope
The phase contrast microscope uses special condensers that help in throwing the light out of phase. This helps the light pass through the object at different speeds. The phase contrast microscope is one of the types of microscopes used in biology to view unstained specimens. It is one of the types of microscopes used to study cells and cell parts like mitochondria, lysosomes, Golgi bodies using a phase contrast microscope.

Electron Microscope

The electron microscope (EM) is one of the most advanced microscopes used today. This microscope is powered by a beam of electrons with very short wavelengths. These electrons strike objects that come in its path and helps increase the resolution of the microscope. The electron microscope is one of the types of microscopes used to study cells like tiny viral cells as well as larger molecules. There are different types of electron microscopes that are explained below:

Transmission Electron Microscope
The transmission electron microscope (TEM) is used to study cells. Ultrathin slices of microorganisms like viruses are placed on a wire grid. Then, these cells are stained with gold or palladium and then used to observe under a transmission electron microscope. The electron beam is deflected on the densely coated parts of the cells and the image is observed on dark and light background.

Scanning Electron Microscope
Scanning electron microscope (SEM) is also a type of electron microscope with lower magnification power than a transmission electron microscope. However, this microscope helps in viewing three-dimensional images of microorganisms and other specimens. Gold and palladium is used to stain the specimens mounted on a scanning electron microscope.

Reflection Electron Microscope
Reflection electron microscope (REM) uses an electron bean that is incident on a surface. However, instead of following the principles of TEM or SEM, it detects the elastically scattered electrons.

The different parts of a microscope help determine the magnification power of a microscope. There are many other types, that are not mentioned here. The ones mentioned above are some of the most commonly used types of microscopes to study cells and other specimens.
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