Finding the Perfect Microscope

By David Aamodt
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There are several types of microscopes with many different purposes, selecting the proper microscope is not as simple as visiting microscope stores and buying the first microscope that catches your eye. Understanding the different types of microscopes and what they are used for can be very beneficial for first time buyers or those just interested in what microscopes can do. Microscopes can be separated into three main types: optical theory microscopes (Light microscopes), electron microscopes (TEM) and scanning probe microscopes (SPM). To better understand what each of these amazing microscopes can do and which best suit your needs here is a brief explanation of each.

Optical Theory Microscopes
The optical microscope is a type of compound microscope that uses wavelengths of light that reflect through multiple lenses to magnify the image to a variety of different degrees. The optical microscope is the most common of all microscopes and the most used around the world. The typical magnification of a light microscope is 1500x with a theoretical resolution limit of around 0.2 micrometers. This is much more then the human eye can see but relatively simple when talking about microscopes. Special techniques can be used to improve resolution of an optical microscope such as ultraviolet lights or the use of near-field scanning optical microscopes.

Electron Microscopes (TEM)
An electron microscope is one of the most powerful and advanced types of microscopes used today. They work by illuminating electrons in the smallest particles of an object to magnify it to a degree far beyond what we can see with the human eye. Electron microscopes can magnify images up to 1 million times, compared with optical microscopes that can only magnify up to 1000 times. However, unless you are buying microscopes for a university, science facility or other large company electron microscopes are not what you are looking for. They are typically very large and very expensive.

Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
You can think of this type of microscope as a large scanner, the kind you would use to scan documents. However, instead of scanning a piece of paper, the scanning electron microscope scans a sample of bacteria or other specimen with a high energy beam of electrons. The electrons interact with the atoms that make up the sample and produce information about the sample. This amazing microscope can produce image details of about 1 to 5 mm in size and can produce image results of 250 times the magnification of the best optical microscope. Again this type of microscope is not for the average user unless you have way too much money lying around and an entire room dedicated for a microscope.

As you can see there are a large variety of microscopes, some are small and get the job done, while others take up an entire room and use all the modern technology to give the best results.

If you're considering purchasing a microscope, be sure to visit our microscope stores review site-you'll find reviews of leading microscope retailers along with side-by-side comparisons of their features.

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