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The microscope

Lathika DeviLast Seen: Mar 3, 2024 @ 6:17am 6MarUTC
Lathika Devi

3rd March 2024 | 2 Views

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 The Microscope is an instrument that is used to magnify small objects. Some microscopes can even be used to observe an object at the cellular level, allowing scientists to see the shape of a cell, its nucleus, mitochondria, and other organelles. While the modern microscope has many parts, the most important pieces are its lenses. It is through the microscope’s lenses that the image of an object can be magnified and observed in detail. A simple light microscope manipulates how light enters the eye using a convex lens, where both sides of the lens are curved outwards. When light reflects off of an object being viewed under the microscope and passes through the lens, it bends towards the eye. This makes the object look bigger than it actually is. The dissecting microscope (also called the stereo microscope). Both of these microscopes have an objective lens, which is closer to the object, and an eyepiece, which is the lens you look through. The eyepiece lens typically magnifies an object to appear ten times its actual size, while the magnification of the objective lens can vary. Compound microscopes can have up to four objective lenses of different magnifications, and the microscope can be adjusted to choose the magnification that best suits the viewer’s needs. The total magnification that a certain combination of lenses provides is determined by multiplying the magnifications of the eyepiece and the objective lens being used. For example, if both the eyepiece and the objective lens magnify an object ten times, the object would appear one hundred times larger.

Over the course of the microscope’s history, technological innovations have made the microscope easier to use and have improved the quality of the images produced. The compound microscope, which consists of at least two lenses, was invented in 1590 by Dutch spectacle-makers Zacharias and Hans Jansen. Some of the earliest microscopes were also made by a Dutchman named Antoine Van Leeuwenhoek. Leeuwenhoek’s microscopes consisted of a small glass ball set inside a metal frame. He became known for using his microscopes to observe freshwater, single-celled microorganisms that he called “animalcules.”

The dissecting microscope provides a lower magnification than the compound microscope, but produces a three-dimensional image. This makes the dissecting microscope good for viewing objects that are larger than a few cells but too small to see in detail with the human eye. The compound microscope is typically used for observing objects at the cellular level.

Types of Microscopes

The basic objective of a microscope is to magnify small objects. More than magnification, the most important function of a microscope is to provide resolution. It should render high-quality details of the desired specimen in order to proceed with the experiment and analysis. Simple and compound are some of the earliest known microscopes that have been recently replaced by electron and fluorescent microscopes. The different types of microscopes are as follows:

Light Microscopes

These are basic microscopes that use light to magnify objects. The lenses in these microscopes refract the light for the objects beneath them to appear closer. The different types of light or optical microscopes are:

  • Compound microscope
  • Simple microscope
  • Dissection or stereo microscope.

Electron Microscopes

Instead of light, these microscopes use beams of electrons to generate images. The two well-known electron microscopes are:

TEM (Transmission Electron Microscope) – the electrons transmit or pass through a very thin specimen.

SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) – It scans through the surface of the specimen by focusing the electron beam.

As a result of technical advancements, one can also find more efficient microscopes like scanning probe microscopes and scanning acoustic microscopes.

An illuminator acts as the light source and is typically located at the microscope’s base. Most light microscopes operate on halogen bulbs with low voltage and also have variable and continuous lighting control within the base. A condenser is typically used to gather and focus the illuminator’s light onto the specimen. It is found beneath the stage and is often observed in conjunction with a diaphragm or iris. Iris or Diaphragm regulates the amount of light that reaches the specimen. It is situated above the condenser but beneath the stage.Microscope Components

A compound microscope is a high-power microscope that has higher magnification levels than a low-power or dissection microscope. It is used to examine tiny specimens like cell structures that cannot be viewed at lower magnification levels. A compound microscope is made up of both structural and optical components. The 3 basic structural components are – the head, arm and base.

The body or head comprises the optical parts present in the upper part of the microscope

The arm connects and supports the base and head of the microscope. Also, it is used to carry the microscope.

Base of the microscope supports the microscope and comprises the illuminator

The optical part of the microscope includes:


Eye tube

Objective lenses


Adjustment knobs



Condenser and condenser focus knob


The ocular or eyepiece is what an observer looks through and is present in the upper portion of the microscope. The eyepiecetube clasps the eyepieces which are positioned above the objective lens. The objective lenses are the main optical lenses. They range in various magnifications from 4x to 100x and generally include 3 to 5 lenses on a single microscope. Nosepiece houses the objective lenses.

The fine and coarse focus knobs are the adjustment knobs that are often used to focus the microscope. They are coaxial knobs. This means the focusing system of both fine and coarse focus are mounted on the same axis. There is also a condenser focus knob which moves the condenser up or down to control the lighting

The stage is where the specimen to be viewed is placed. A mechanical stage is often used when working on a specimen at a higher magnification. This is when delicate movement of the specimen is required. Stage clips are operated to hold the slide in place. To see different areas of the specimen, the observer must physically move the slide. A separate knob is present to move the slide in the mechanical stage. The aperture is a tiny hole in the stage via which the transmitted light enters the stage.

Functions of Microscope

The primary function of a microscope is to study biological specimens. A microscope solely functions on two concepts – magnification and resolution. Magnification is simply the ability of the microscope to enlarge the image. Whereas the ability to analyse minute details depends on the resolution.

Compound and dissection microscopes are the two types of microscopes that are mostly used in schools for educational purposes.

Functions of compound microscope

It simplifies the study of viruses and bacteria.

They are used in pathology labs to make an easy diagnosis of diseases.

They are also used in forensic laboratories to identify human fingerprints.

Both simple and compound microscopes can be used for microbiological studies. Specimens like fungi and algae can be viewed under these microscopes. Microscopes can also be used to study soil particles.

Functions of dissection microscope

Help to study the topography of solid samples.

It is used for dissections and microsurgical procedures

It is also used in forensic engineering.

Functions of electron microscope

Electron microscopes are expensive devices that are mostly used in industrial and medical research.

They are used for micro characterization of a sample

Helps in tissue imaging

Device testing

Mineral liberation analysis.

Lathika DeviLast Seen: Mar 3, 2024 @ 6:17am 6MarUTC

Lathika Devi



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