Friday, June 28, 2013

Tips for Caring for Your Microscope

Microscopes are delicate pieces of equipment, so you should follow a few basic rules to prevent damage to the microscope.

These rules are meant to prevent you from dropping the microscope, from damaging the lenses, or from storing the microscope improperly. Dropping a microscope can break the lenses or can alter the alignment of the lenses. To prevent this damage, you should always carry the microscope with two hands; one hand under the base and the other hand on the arm of the microscope. 

When using the microscope, keep the instrument at least six inches from the edge of the lab table and keep any excess electrical cord on the table top to keep the microscope from being pushed or pulled off the table. The microscope's lenses are very delicate and can easily be scratched or damaged by oils. Lenses should be cleaned before and after each use with special lens paper. In addition, you should refrain from touching the glass lens with your finger to avoid depositing oils or scratching the glass. 

When using the microscope to view a specimen, you should follow common sense rules of behavior. Do not tamper with any part of the microscope unless you understand its purpose. A common mistake is to focus quickly while looking through the eyepiece of the microscope so that the objective lens bumps into the slide. To prevent damage to the lens, you should always make large focus changes slowly while observing the movement of the objective lens from the side of the microscope. 

Finally, the microscope should be stored carefully. Unplug the electrical cord by pulling on the plug instead of the cord. Remove oil from the oil-immersion objective using lens paper, then turn the nose piece so that the low-power objective is in place. Carefully lower the objective to its lowest position by turning the coarse adjustment knob. Then store the microscope under a dust cloth.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Microscope Basics for Beginners

 Microorganisms, as their name implies, cannot be seen with the naked eye. Although they were observed as early as 1674 by Anton Van Leeuwenhoek using a simple, single-lens microscope, it was not until the development of the modern compound microscope that the real diversity of microorganisms became apparent.

There are two basic categories of microscopes: light microscopes and electron microscopes. Light, or optical, microscopes require light waves to provide the illumination while electron microscopes use electrons to provide the illumination. Light microscopes are used for most general laboratory work, while electron microscopes are used to view extremely small objects such as sub-cellular components or viruses. In each basic category of microscope, there are a variety of sub-types. Light microscopes may be bright field, dark field, phase contrast, or fluorescence, while electron microscopes can be either transmission or scanning. The most commonly used laboratory microscope is the bright-field microscope, so this lab will be concerned exclusively with bright-field microscopes.


  • Base Supports the microscope 
  • Light Source Illuminates the object to be studied 
  • Iris Diaphragm Controls the light intensity on the object 
  • Condenser Concentrates light on the object 
  • Stage Platform which supports the slide containing the object to be studied 
  • Arm Carrying handle 
  • Coarse Adjustment Knob Large outer knob which brings the image into rough focus 
  • Fine Adjustment Knob Small inner knob which brings the image into clear focus 
  •  Low Power Objective Magnifies the object ten times (10×) 
  •  High Power Objective Magnifies the object 43 times (43×) 
  •  Ocular Lens Magnifies the image produced by the objective lens ten times (10×)
  •  Revolving Nose piece holds the objective lenses and allows you to change directly from one objective to another without having to refocus Basically, the microscope consists of a support system, a light system, a lens system, and a focusing system.  Each of these systems works together to produce a magnified image of the specimen. 
 Support System 
The support system consists of the base, arm, and stage. The base and arm are structural elements which hold the other parts of the microscope in place while the stage holds the slide. Depending on the microscope, the slide can be positioned under two spring clips and moved by the fingers, or it can be held in place by a mechanical stage and moved by means of two control knobs.
  1.  Light System The light system passes light through the specimen using the light source, the condenser, and the iris diaphragm. In a bright-field microscope, an incandescent bulb is usually used as the source of illumination. Light from the light source then passes through the condenser which focuses the light on the specimen. 
  2.  An iris diaphragm is used to control the intensity, or brightness, of light which passes through the specimen, thus allowing the operator to adjust the intensity and achieve an optimum viewing contrast.
Lens System 
 The lens system forms the actual image which you will see when you look through a microscope. A typical compound microscope has two lenses - an objective lens near the specimen and an ocular lens at the top - each of which magnifies the image of the specimen by a certain amount. The ocular lens on most microscopes magnifies 10x. In contrast, the typical microscope has at least three objective lenses mounted on a revolving nose piece to allow for different magnifications.  There is a limit to the amount of useful magnification one can achieve with a light microscope. The highest magnification which can be achieved without producing a poorly resolved image is known as the resolving power of the lens. The resolving power is the shortest distance between two closely adjacent points which can be seen and is based on the wavelength of light used for illumination and on the nature of the lens.

 Focusing System
The final system at work in the microscope is the focusing system. So far, we have learned how all of the components of the microscope are held together by the support system, how the light system sends light through the specimen, and how the lens system uses that light to magnify the specimen's image and transmit it to our eyes. The focusing system adjusts the distance between the slide and the objective lens so that the image comes into focus. The focusing system consists of two knobs - the coarse adjustment knob and the fine adjustment knob. When focusing, the operator first turns the coarse adjustment knob (which is the larger focus knob) in order to move the stage a large distance and bring the image into the focal plane of the objective lens. At this stage, the image will be visible but fuzzy. Then the operator turns the smaller knob, known as the fine focus knob, to fine tune the focus and to make the image sharply focused.

Monday, June 24, 2013


The following is a list of descriptions of the various types of objectives available for your microscope.

 Achromat Objectives - these are the most basic high power microscope objectives. Typically the outer edge of the circular image seen through the microscope will be slightly out of focus due to the curvature of the lens.

Semi-Plan Achromat Objectives - these are one step up from basic microscope objectives in that the field of viewhas been corrected a bit and the outer edges will be in focus more than the standard achromat lens.

Plan Achromat Objectives - these microscope objectives have been corrected for lens curvature and the entire image plane is flat and in focus

Plan Apochromat Objectives - These objectives have been corrected for four colors chromatically and spherically. Best used for critical resolution and color photomicrography.

Plan Fluorite Objectives - these microscope objective lenses are corrected for four wavelengths, but not quite as extensively as plan apochromat objectives.

100 X Achromatic Compound Microscope Objective Lens $69.99
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Friday, June 21, 2013

Microscopic Worlds: Freshwater Microscopic Fauna

  A movie about microscopic life showing some of the freshwater microscopic fauna under high magnifications. We are surrounded with various living creatures, but how often do we notice the tiniest ones and how small can they be? Such common but inconspicuous organisms like water fleas, seed shrimps, and hydras are less than a centimeter in size but they are very important components of the freshwater ecosystems.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cleaning Your Microscope

In order to effectively clean your microscope there are a few factors that need to be considered:

  1. Quality and Type of Microscope
  2. Frequency of Use
  3. Type of Use

In order to prolong the life of your microscope, it is recommended that you use a cover to help protect it from any airborne contaminants. Another factor that helps, is where you store your microscope. Try to store your microscope in a clean, dry area with a regulated temperature. 

Try to stay away from solvents because they can destroy delicate components of your microscope. You can clean your microscope with a dust removing surface cloth and distilled water or microscope cleaning wipes.
Microscope & Camera Lens Cleaning Paper Booklets 250 Sheets
Helpful Tips:
  • Unplug your microscope before cleaning it
  • Never clean the internal lens
  • Clean eyepiece tubes and rims with a dry cloth
  • Clean optics with cotton clothes
  • Use lens cleaning paper as directed for camera lenses

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fluorescence Microscopy

In fluorescence microscopy, the sample of what is studied is the light source. Fluorescence microscopy is centered around the idea that various materials emit visible light when irradiated with the light from a specific wavelength. Some samples are naturally fluorescent such as chlorophyll.

The image is created when the microscope has a filter that sorts our the strength of the light emitted and matches the wavelength with the material.  When the radiation collides with the atom in the specimen, electrons are excited to a higher energy level. The light is the separated with another filter, and are projected in the microscope with high contrast against a dark background.

Fluorescence microscopy is rapidly expanding in the medical and biological field due to its abilities to identify cellular composition with great detail and accuracy.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Images Using OMAX Binocular Stereo Microscopes

Finding fun things to view with your stereo microscope is easier than you might think. If you simply walk around your house or outside in the back yard you can find an endless supply of interesting samples for microscope viewing. Below are some low powered magnifications taken with some of our binocular stereo microscopes, enjoy!

Taken with Model: G223B

Taken with Model: G225AL

Taken with Model: XV321HL54P

Taken with Model: XG327HL54P

Taken with Model: XG327HL54P

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wastewater Bacteria Under the Microscope

Wastewater treatment involves the process of identifying and eliminating microorganisms including:

Bacteria - These small, single-celled organisms are found in large numbers in polluted water. Phase contrast microscopes are used to identify most bacteria in wastewater.

Full-size image (58 K)

Protozoa - These single-celled organisms are typically much larger than bacteria and are typically found in large numbers in wastewater, many being quite mobile. Protozoa have received increased attention because of their connection with waterborne diseases.

Metazoa - Multi-celled organisms that are larger and more complex than Protozoa. Rotifers are included in this group and are fairly common in wastewater treatment processes, as they play an active role in the breakdown of organic wastes.

Viruses - These are much smaller than bacteria and can not be seen with a standard microscope. Viruses are parasites that can reproduce within a host cell. Many diseases caused by viruses can be transmitted through polluted waters.

There are two types of wastewater treatment microscopes: ohase contrast microscopes and brightfield microscopes. The more common wastewater treatment microscopes use phase contrast to identify bacteria, protozoa and rotifers.

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