Light Microscope: Types, Prices, Features

November 2, 2021

One of the most revolutionary instruments in the field of science is the microscope, which has several types such as the Light Microscope . This being one of the basic materials in laboratories around the world.

History of the Light Microscope

The history of the microscope begins in 1608 with Zacharias Janssen building the first microscope with two converging lenses. With the passage of time, other elements began to be created or added to the microscopes.

In fact from 1608 to 1952 the microscope underwent various changes. For example, in 1828 W. Nicol developed polarized light microscopy. Changes continued and by 1930 Lebedeff designed and built the first interference microscope. Two years later Zernike invented the phase contrast microscope, then in 1937 Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll built the first electron microscope.

From this point, 5 years had to pass, being in 1952 when a man named Nomarski invented and patented the differential interference contrast system. Which would serve for the light microscope.

What is the Light Microscope?

To begin with, we must say that this laboratory instrument owes its name because it allows the passage of undisturbed light through a lens system. This is done in order to produce a bright field where small objects can be optimally observed.

Basically we are talking about an instrument whose purpose is to observe those elements that are very difficult to see with the naked eye . That is to say, it fulfills the function that its name indicates (micros which in Greek is small and scopic which is to look).

This microscope first appeared in the seventeenth century, being one of the simplest and most basic types of microscopes when we talk about one of these instruments. In relation to its operation, it is based on the set of lenses and the use of visible light. Thanks to this, it is possible to increase the image of the sample that we are going to analyze.

Light Microscope Features

Before working with a microscope it is necessary that we know its characteristics, as well as the parts it has;

  • Zipper ; It is the one that works to lower and raise the plate.
  • Optical tube ; It is the metal cylinder where we can find the ocular lens.
  • Eyepiece ; These characteristics will depend on the type of microscope, since some have one or two ocular lenses. This being the means used to correctly observe a sample.
  • Platen ; In this case we are talking about the surface where the preparation is placed so that the rays can be projected. Which come from the light source.
  • Focus ; It is the part of the microscope with which it is possible to transmit light rays to the device.
  • Arm ; Structure that allows to hold the tube, the stage and the screws of the Light Microscope.
  • Base or foot ; This is the bottom part of the device, which makes it stay stable and upright.
  • Stir ; It is the part that has the objectives and the magnification variety. It will rotate in order to use a magnification that will be linear with the eyepiece.
  • Macro and micrometric screw ; This is the part that allows you to focus. These being the ones that will move the platen or tube from top to bottom. In the case of the macro, the displacements are made with much greater magnitude, while the micros are short, but they have a precise direction.
  • Porta objects ; In this case we are talking about the sheet in which the object or sample that we are going to study is placed.
  • Drive screws ; It is the screw that allows the platen to be moved, it has a cross shape and allows it to be moved forward, backward, right or left.

Optical parts of the microscope

The previous characteristics that we named of this instrument correspond to the mechanical parts of the microscope . So now we will move on to the optical parts of the Light Microscope;

  • Condenser ; In this case we are talking about a lens whose purpose is to concentrate the light rays.
  • Diaphragm ; This is the part of the Light Microscope that allows to regulate the light that enters through the condenser.
  • Eye lens ; It is a part located in the upper area of ​​the optical tube. This being the one that comes into direct contact with the eyes. Thanks to this we can amplify the real and inverted size that the objective lens gives.
  • Objective tubes ; They are those that have a lens located in a revolver. This part is intended to enlarge the image. But it also allows you to see through the eyepieces.
  • Light source ; As its name indicates, this is the light located at the foot of the microscope. It should be noted that this instrument has various intensities.

What is the Light Microscope for?

If we talk about the operation of this laboratory instrument, we can say that it is used to observe and analyze elements or particular . It is important to indicate that in this case we are talking about elements that are not visible to the naked eye. Because of this, it is a fundamental instrument for various scientific investigations.

It should be mentioned that this microscope has a magnificent image, which allows to observe small structures in a detailed way. The same is achieved by means of your optimal system. This being the one that has the purpose of directing natural or artificial light.

How does the Light Microscope work?

Now that we know the parts of this device, knowing how it works will not be so complicated. To begin with, we can say that the first element to participate is the light source . Being the light of this the one that penetrates the sample from below.

After this it forms a first image in the part of the objective, which is later enlarged and projected by the eyepiece. The latter behaving in a similar way to a magnifying glass, that is, it enlarges the primary image and then converts it into a secondary image.

Then it becomes a virtual image , which then reaches the retina, making it easy for the observer to observe.

Where is the Light Microscope used?

This instrument can be used in a large number of fields where scientific research is needed . Specifically, we can say that it is extremely relevant in geology and biology. But also in other areas such as physics, chemistry, etc.

Although it has also come to be used in areas such as histology and pathological anatomy. In these cases it is used to make diagnoses, including pigments, crystalline structures, lipids, proteins and bone deposits.

Types of Light Microscope

As we can imagine, this instrument has a great variety of types, among which we find;

Stereoscopic microscope

In this case we are talking about an instrument with two eyepieces . Being this able to throw several results and offers 3D effects.

USB microscope

This manages to capture the images digitally. Because this is usually used in daily work.

Monocular, binocular and trinocular microscope

The first, as its name indicates, has a single eyepiece, which allows us to see the sample through a single eye. While the second is the one with two eyepieces and can see the sample through both eyes. In the case of the trinocular, this works to see the elements of two elements with both eyes. However, it has a fourth eyepiece, which connects to a camera, which allows the images to be captured.

Compound microscope

It is an easy-to-use device, in which two or more lenses are used to achieve image magnification.

Digital microscope

In this case we are talking about an instrument which instead of using an eyepiece. It has a camera that is responsible for capturing the images of the element digitally.

Inverted microscope

It is a type of Light Microscope, which is illuminated from above. That is, the position of the light source and the objective is the opposite of that of the microscope . We must indicate that this instrument has an advantage, which is to be able to see what is in the background.

Fluorescence microscope

In this case we are talking about an instrument where fluorescent substances must be used. Thanks to this, we were able to better observe the results of the samples.

Ultraviolet light microscope

As its name indicates, this is an instrument that offers ultraviolet (UV) illumination to the sample or the element found in the microscope. It is important to mention that with this you get a quality resolution, as well as a better contrast.

Polarized light microscope

Finally we have this type of microscope, where the direction of the light is very punctual. As for its use, it is used to observe minerals, rocks and crystalline objects .

It is important to highlight the importance of knowing each of the different types of Light Microscopes that we can find in laboratories. Keep in mind that it will be in this way that you will be able to recognize them and choose the right one for the work you need to do.

How to make a homemade polarized light microscope? 

Dr. Loony Davis5
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Born and raised in Brussels in an English family, I have always lived in a multicultural environment. After several work experiences in marketing and communication, I came to Smart Water Magazine, which I describe as the most exciting challenge of my career.
I am a person with great restlessness and curiosity to learn, discover what I do not know, as well as reinvent myself daily, someone who is curious about life and wants to know. I enjoy sharing knowledge.
This is my personal project but I also collaborate in other blogs, it is the case, the most important web on water currently exists in the US, if you are interested you can read my articles here.

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