Types of Microscopes

A microscope is a laboratory instrument used to see things that are not visible to the human eyes. There are different types of microscopes and each type has its benefits and advantages. These are the following:

simple microscope

Image 1: A simple microscope is the first microscope ever created.

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image of a compound microscope

Image 2: An image of a compound microscope.

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#1 – Types of microscopes according to lenses

  1. Simple microscope – it was the very first microscope created by Antony Van Leeuwenhoek in the 17th century. It was a magnifying glass, so simple yet powerful and useful. It consists of a single lens or lenses group in one unit.
  2. Compound microscope – it is called a compound microscope because it has two lenses resulting in better magnification. It is a bright field microscope which provides up to 1,000 times magnification. (1, 2, 3, and 4)

 

Light microscope/Optical Microscope

This type of microscope uses light to produce the viewed image. Light microscopes have various sub-types which include the following:

basic single magnification microscope

Image 3: A basic single magnification microscope.

Picture Source: olympus-lifescience.com

  1. Basic single magnification microscope – It is similar to that of the magnifying glass with a magnification power of 20x. It uses ambient light to illuminate the specimen being examined. This microscope is used to viewing objects like bugs, fabric weaves, and sand grains.basic introductory biological compound microscope

Image 4: A basic introductory biological compound microscope/transmitted light microscope.

Picture Source: balance-express.com

  1. Basic introductory biological compound microscope/transmitted light microscope – it is usually used in elementary and middle schools. It comes with three objective powers: 40x, 100x, and 400x. Beneath the stage is where light is located and where the slide is placed.

full-size biological compound microscope

Image 5: A full-size biological compound microscope.

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  1. Full-size biological compound microscope – It comes with three to four magnifications: 40x, 100x, 400x, and 1000x. The light is under the stage to transmit illumination. It comes with a built-in mechanical stage enabling the students to easily maneuver the slides on the stage.

example of a shop microscope

Image 6: An example of a shop microscope.

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  1. Shop microscope – It has a small flashlight used to illuminate specimens. It is placed directly on the specimen with the light on. This type of microscope is commonly used in the publishing industry to examine printed materials. It is also useful in the textile industry, specifically in checking the color and weaves of the fabric.

example of a binocular research microscope

Image 7: An example of a binocular research microscope.

Picture Source: imimg.com

  1. Research microscope – it comes with fluorescence and primarily used by cell biologists. In fact, it is the microscope of choice when localizing proteins in a sample.

image depicts an inverted microscope

Image 8: The image depicts an inverted microscope.

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  1. Inverted microscope – It is used in biology setting and comes with a light on top and objective lenses beneath the stage. It is specially created for transmitted light observations. Its magnification powers are 40x, 100x, 200x, and 400x.

image is one of the classic models of a metallurgical microscope

Image 9: The image is one of the classic models of a metallurgical microscope.

Picture Source: microscopeworld.com

  1. Metallurgical microscope – It is a high power microscope with reflected light illumination, which enables you to view materials that typically won’t allow light to pass through such as plastic and metal. Its magnification ranges from 40x to 1000x.

polarizing microscope

Image 10: A polarizing microscope.

Picture Source: microscope.com

  1. Polarizing microscope –It uses polarizer and analyzer to visualize materials under polarized light. Specimens can be viewed spectacularly under polarized light. A polarizing microscope is commonly used in industries like geology and pharmaceuticals.

 

  1. Brightfield microscope – It uses transmitted light to check for a target at maximum magnification.

Phase contrast microscope uses a light interference

Image 12: A Phase contrast microscope uses a light interference.

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  1. Phase contrast microscope – It examines very tiny surface irregularities using light interference. It has the ability to check living cells without having the need to stain them.

 

differential interference contrast microscope is a huge type of microscope that uses polarized light

Image 13: A differential interference contrast microscope is a huge type of microscope that uses polarized light.

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  1. Differential interference contrast microscope – it is somewhat similar to the face contrast in terms of observing even the smallest surface irregularities. It uses polarized light which can limit the different observable specimen containers.

fluorescence microscope uses a special light source

Image 14: A fluorescence microscope uses a special light source.

Picture Source: spachoptics.com

  1. Fluorescence microscope – it observes fluorescence emitted by the sample with the use of a special light source such as a mercury lamp.

This is what a total internal reflection fluorescence microscope looks like

Image 15: This is what a total internal reflection fluorescence microscope looks like.

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  1. Total internal reflection fluorescence microscope – It is somewhat the same as the fluorescence microscope instead that it uses the evanescent wave to illuminate the surface close to the specimen.

A laser microscope is also known as a laser scanning confocal microscope

Image 16: A laser microscope is also known as a laser scanning confocal microscope.

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  1. Laser microscope – It uses laser beams to clearly observe thick samples with different focal distance.

 

structured illumination microscope

Image 17: A structured illumination microscope.

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  1. Structured illumination microscope – A microscope with a high resolution and advanced technology, which has the ability to overcome limited resolution a light/optical microscope usually have caused by diffraction of light.

multiphoton excitation microscope from Olympus

Image 18: A multiphoton excitation microscope from Olympus.

Picture Source: biocompare.com

  1. Multiphoton excitation microscope – it uses multiple excitation lasers which help reduce the damage to the cells and enabling high-resolution observation of deep areas of the specimen. In a clinical setting, the multiphoton excitation microscope is used to visualize nerve cells and the flow of blood in the brain. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7)

 

Refer to the table below for the summary of different types of light microscope/optical microscope.

Types of light microscope/optical microscopeDefinition
Basic single magnification microscope
  • Uses ambient light to illuminate the specimen being examined.
  • Used to view objects like bugs, fabric weaves, and sand grains.
Basic introductory biological compound microscope/transmitted light microscope
  • Commonly used in elementary and middle schools.
  • Has three objective powers: 40x, 100x, and 400x.
Full size biological compound microscope
  • Has three to four magnifications: 40x, 100x, 400x, and 1000x.
  • It comes with a built-in mechanical stage.
Shop microscope
  • Has a small flashlight used to illuminate specimens.
  • Commonly used in the publishing industry to examine printed materials.
  • It useful in the textile industry, specifically in checking the color and weaves of the fabric.
Research microscope
  • Has a fluorescence
  • A microscope of choice by biologists when localizing protein in a sample.
Inverted microscope
  • Use in biology setting.
  • Specially created for transmitted light observations.
Metallurgical microscope
  • A high power microscope with reflected light illumination.
Polarizing microscope
  • Uses polarizer and analyzer to check materials under polarized light.
  • Commonly used in geology and pharmaceutical industries.
Brightfield microscope Uses transmitted light to check for the specimen at maximum magnification.
Phase contrast microscope
  • Checks the tiny surface irregularities using light interference.
  • Checks living cells without staining them.
Differential interference contrast microscopeIt uses polarized light.
Fluorescence microscopeIt uses a special light source to view the sample such as a mercury lamp.
Total internal reflection fluorescence microscopeIt uses the evanescent wave to illuminate the surface close to the specimen.
Laser microscope It uses laser beams to check thick samples with different local distance.
Structured illumination microscopeIt has the ability to overcome limited resolution a light/optical microscope usually have caused by a diffraction of light.
Multiphoton excitation microscope
  • Uses multiple excitation laser so as to reduce damage to the cells.
  • It is used to visualize nerve cells and blood flow in the brain.

 

#3 – Electron microscope

scanning electron microscope

 

Image 19: A scanning electron microscope (SEM)

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transmission electron microscope

Image 20:A transmission electron microscope.

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It uses an electron beam as the source of light. To be able to generate the image being viewed, it needs to use computer software. Its resolution is way better when compared with the light microscope, which is perfect for seeing the inside structure of the cell. There are different types of an electron microscope and these are:

  • Scanning electron microscope (SEM) – It bounces the electrons off the object thereby creating a 3D image. Its maximum magnification is 100,000x.
  • Transmission electron microscope – It produces a 2D image with a maximum magnification of 500,000x enabling to visualize the inside structure of the cell. (4, 5, 7, 8, and 9)

 

Types of electron microscopeDefinition
Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
  • Creates a 3D image
  • Maximum magnification is 100,000x
Transmission Electron Microscope
  • Creates a 2D image
  • Maximum magnification is 500,000x

 

#4 – Stereo Microscope/Dissecting microscope

It is an optical type of microscope enabling the viewer to see the sample in 3-dimensions. Its magnification power ranges from 10x to 80x. It is primarily used to inspect large specimens like fossils, rocks, coins, hair follicles, stamps, parts of flowers, and the likes.

gemological microscope is perfect for examining gems and minerals

 

Image 19: A gemological microscope is perfect for examining gems and minerals.

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  • Gemological microscope – A stereo microscope that has a special illumination perfect for examining gems and minerals.

 

fixed stereo microscope

Image 20: A fixed stereo microscope.

Picture Source: microscopegenius.com

  • Stereo fixed microscope – It has fixed magnification using two objective lenses. The magnification has a fixed degree and is limited by the lens capability. To increase the magnification, you need to change the eyepiece.

stereo turret microscope

Image 21: A stereo turret microscope is a more affordable option for a stereo microscope.

Picture Source: microscopeworld.com

  • Stereo Turret Microscope – It comes with various mountings and one of which is the turret style. This type of mounting indicates an additional objective lens which you can rotate to your viewing position. The viewer can easily change the magnification by rotating the mounting of a turret. It is preferred by many because it is more affordable than other types of stereo microscope.

stereo zoom microscope looks like

Image 22: This is how a stereo zoom microscope looks like.

Picture Source: microscopeworld.com

  • Stereo Zoom Microscope – The most popular type of stereo microscope. You can easily zoom in and out to achieve the desired magnification. You can have a clear magnification by changing the eyepiece. (6, 9, 10, 11, and 12)
Types of stereo microscope/dissecting microscopeDefinition
Gemological microscopeIt is used to examine gems and minerals.
Stereo fixed microscopeIt has fixed magnification with two objective lenses.
Stereo Turret MicroscopeIt is preferred by many because it is more affordable than other types of stereo microscope.
Stereo Zoom MicroscopeIt is the most popular type of stereo microscope.
Changing the eyepiece gives you a clear magnification.

 

#5 – Scanning Probe Microscope (SPM)

typical look of a scanning probe microscope

Image 23: A typical look of a scanning probe microscope.

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A physical probe is used close to the sample so as to generate a micrograph. Examples of scanning probe microscopes include:

  • Scanning tunneling microscope
  • Atomic force microscope
  • Magnetic force microscope
  • Electric force microscope
  • Near-field scanning optical microscope (12)

#6 – Point Projection Microscopes

point projection microscope

Image 24: A point projection microscope.

Picture Source:  imimg.com

A type of microscope in which ions are excited from the needle-shaped specimen and hit a detector. Examples of point projection microscopes are:

  • Field emission microscope
  • Atom probe microscope
  • Field ion microscope (13)

 

#7 – Acoustic Microscopes

acoustic microscope

Image 25: An acoustic microscope

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A microscope that uses sound waves to create an enlarged image of a small object. It is used to detect defects in sub-surfaces of materials.

 

Type of microscope according to structure

  • Upright microscope – It examines the subject from above. A specimen is put on a slide and examined microscopically.
  • Inverted microscope – It examines the subject from below. It is the instrument of choice for observation of samples like cells soaked with culture in a Petri dish. (12, 14, and 15)

 

Microscopes according to structureDifferences
Upright microscopeIt examines the subject from above.
Inverted microscopeIt examines the subject from below.

 

#9 – Other types

digital cordless microscope

Image 26: The image above is a digital cordless microscope.

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  • Digital microscope – It uses optical lenses and CMOS/CCD sensors. What’s good about digital microscope is that it has a maximum magnification power of 1000x. It has the ability to record a high-quality image of the specimen. A CCD camera is attached to the microscope and connected to the LCD monitor or computer.

 

dark field microscope enables the light object to be seen on a dark background

Image 27: A dark field microscope enables the light object to be seen on a dark background.

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  • Dark-field Microscope – It is used to examine live spirochetes. It comes with a special condenser lens that facilitates scattering of light. The light is reflected off the specimen at an angle. Hence, a light object can be seen on a dark background. (10, 11, 13, and 14)

Other types of microscopes

Differences
Digital microscopeUses optical lenses and CMOS/CCD sensors.
Has a maximum magnification power of 1000x.
Can record a high-quality image of the specimen.
Dark field microscopeUsed to examine live spirochetes.
Has a condenser lens to facilitate scattering of light.
It enables light objects to be seen on a dark background.

 

References

  1. https://www.microscopemaster.com/different-types-of-microscopes.html
  2. https://sciencing.com/different-kinds-microscopes-uses-5024481.html
  3. https://www.cas.miamioh.edu/mbiws/microscopes/types.html
  4. https://www.keyence.com/ss/products/microscope/bz-x/study/principle/type.jsp
  5. https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/biology/microbiology/microscopy/types-of-microscopes
  6. https://www.microscope-detective.com/types-of-microscopes.html
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microscope
  8. https://eco-globe.com/types-of-microscope/
  9. https://owlcation.com/stem/light-and-electron-microscopy
  10. https://sciencestruck.com/types-of-microscopes-their-uses
  11. https://microscope-microscope.org/microscope-info/microscope-types/
  12. https://www.britannica.com/technology/microscope
  13. http://www.biologydiscussion.com/biology/5-important-types-of-microscopes-used-in-biology-with-diagram/2635
  14. https://study.com/academy/lesson/types-of-microscopes-election-light-fluorescence.html
  15. http://www.edinformatics.com/inventions_inventors/microscope.htm

 

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