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Microscopy Primer

Section Overview:

This treatise on Microscopy is divided into several sections that are available through the links displayed immediately to the left (in the darker boxes) and below. In order to print the entire document, you must download each link independently, send the file to your printer, and put the results together. In the Bibliography, we have included links to other works on optical microscopy and our section on Web Resources contains links to other microscopy sites on the Internet. This material is targeted for educational purposes only, and is not available to be posted on remote websites (either commercial or educational) or distributed in any electronic format.

Featured Sections

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Mortimer Abramowitz, senior microscopist at Olympus America, Inc., answers the 50 most commonly asked questions in this featured article about microscopy and photomicrography.

  • Physics of Light and Color

    Visible light represents only a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum of radiation that extends from high-frequency gamma rays through X-rays, ultraviolet light, and infrared radiation to very low frequency radio waves.

  • Anatomy of the Microscope

    A discussion of the elements that comprise modern microscopes and theories behind concepts such as magnification, image formation, Köhler illumination, optical aberrations, immersion media, and light sources.

  • Specialized Microscopy Techniques

    More advanced topics in microscopy are covered in this section, including contrast enhancement, fluorescence microscopy, differential interference contrast, phase contrast and other optical techniques used in microscopy.

  • Digital Imaging in Optical Microscopy

    Digitization of a video or electronic image captured through an optical microscope results in a dramatic increase in the ability to enhance features, extract information, or modify the image.

  • Photomicrography

    The featured section addresses the classical methods of photomicrography on film and includes a comprehensive analysis of the cause and correction of errors and faults in photomicrography.

  • Virtual Microscopy

    Our interactive virtual microscopes allow visitors to explore selected samples using a variety of contrast-enhancing techniques. The techniques include DIC, fluorescence, Rheinberg illumination, and polarized light.

  • The Olympus MIC-D Digital Microscope

    The MIC-D inverted digital microscope was designed specifically for a wide spectrum of applications ranging from basic classroom instruction to more advanced laboratory analysis.

  • Java and Flash Tutorial Basics

    Interactive Java and Flash tutorials have been developed to help students explore complex concepts in all phases of optical microscopy, the physics of light and color, photomicrography, and digital imaging technology.

  • Optical Microscopy Review

    Download our latest review article on optical microscopy. This article discusses the basics of image formation, objectives, eyepieces, condensers, contrast enhancement, and photomicrography with full-color illustrations.

  • Web Resources

    We have reviewed and provided links to over 100 microscopy websites in our resources section. The sites are arranged according to origin (university or commercial), target audience, and by educational level.

  • Bibliography

    All reference materials used in preparing this primer are cited along with other books about electron and scanning probe microscopy, highly specialized microscopy techniques, and older books on the history of microscopy.

Contributing Authors

Thomas J. Fellers and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.