There are only a few inventions other than the microscope in our millennium that can be claimed to have had the ability to define and break worlds. The microscope, a staple in both high school laboratories and high technology laboratories, has the ability to enhance minute particles for observation. Scientists have uncovered a broad number of concepts and have been able to visualize the world of bacteria, diatoms, and more due to this wonderful gadget.
There are many types of microscopes for a wide range of fields, but they can all be broken down into two basic types:
- Optical Microscope. Optical microscopes are one of the most commonly used microscopes around. All high school biology classes have seen one. Optical microscopes use a lens, normally made out of plastic or quartz, to see things. Compound optical microscopes use available light or an illuminator as a transmitter of what is seen. There are different kinds of optical microscopes altogether. A monocular microscope is a microscope with one eyepiece. A binocular microscope has two eyepieces and a trinocular microscope with three eyepieces, one on one side and two on another. Another type of optical microscope is the kind called stereomicroscope. The stereomicroscope focuses on two, sometimes three, different angles to provide a three dimensional view of a specimen. A noticeable feature in these microscopes is the ability to change the light source. Ultraviolet and infrared lights on a specimen can change what we see, like invisible specimens. Another feature is the changing of the lens where you can see twice, thrice, or even ten times the magnification into an object. These require special lenses that can be bought.
- Electron Microscope. The second type of microscope is the electron microscope. Unlike the optical microscope, the electron microscope uses an electron ray to illuminate and magnify an object. Although both are limited in resolution, electron microscopes are better at it, and can magnify to an astounding 2 million times. Although it uses a light beam, there are still two lenses that focus the beam even more, running it through another pair of electrostatic and electromagnetic lens before hitting the actual specimen. Newer versions have USB ports so that they can transmit an image digitally and directly onto a computer.
There are many uses for both optical and electron microscopes. Optical microscopes are cheap and easy to use and transport, and can be used in medical research fieldworks in areas that do not have the luxury of electricity. They are also used in medical surgeries or any invasive diagnostic tool. For example, a colonoscopy uses a certain type of optical microscope, called a digital microscope, to scan the colon and check for polyps which may or may not be cancerous. Electron microscopes are normally used in physics and chemistry where smaller particles need to be seen. Another use for electron microscopes is in staining and identifying viruses and other miniscule particles.
With better lenses and better procedures of microscopy coming into play, there is no doubt that scientists will use these tools to discover more things in the years to come.