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Lab Microscope Types and Applications

Invented way back in the 1600s, inverted microscopes were used primarily for visual exploration of bacteria and blood cells. After hundreds of years of development and after playing crucial role in the field of cellular discovery, these microscopes have become integral part of almost every laboratory. Here we will have a look at various types of lab microscopes and their uses.

Light microscopes
These are one of the most common types of lab microscopes that use visible projected light for illuminating and magnifying the view of the specimen object. There are various types of light microscopes, ranging from the most basic type like the dissecting or stereo microscope to compound scopes to more specialized dark fields and phase contrast ones. Let us have a look at the various applications and uses of this microscope.

•    Staining and light microscopy combined together allows researchers in identifying different types of bacteria.

•    Mineralogists make use of light microscopy extensively to detect minerals by making a special sample preparation referred to as thin sections.

Fluorescent Microscopes

Also known as Confocal microscope, these make use of ultraviolet light as the main source for illumination. Upon hitting an object surface, the ultraviolet light creates excitement among the electrons of the object. These electrons emit light in various hues helping identification of the bacteria. In contrast to compound or dissecting scopes, these microscopes allow viewing of an object through a Confocal pinhole. This is why the viewer cannot see the whole object at a time.  Let us have a look at the various uses and applications of this microscope.

•    These are particularly used for viewing images of structural components of microscopic specimens like body cells.

•    They are used for studying viability of on-cell populations and determining their characters.

•    This microscope is also used for imaging DNA and RNA.

Electron Microscopes

In these a beam of electrons is used as the source of illuminating light. The beam of electrons that have a short wavelength helps in increasing image resolution to a great extent. There are basically two types of electron microscopes:  Transmission Electron Microscopes or TEM and Scanning Electron Microscopes or SEM. Both TEM and SEM are used for a variety of specialized laboratory purposes.

•    SEM is used to deliver detailed images of cell surfaces and whole organisms.

•    SEM is also used for counting particles, determining size and process control.

•    TEM provides topographical, morphological and crystalline information through detailed imaging.

•    TEM is used extensively to study crystals, metals and also offers industrial applications.

•    TEM is also used for semiconductor analysis and silicon chips manufacturing.

X-Ray Microscopes

These use X-ray beam to produce an image of a studied specimen. They are highly specialized microscopes and can offer vivid images of living cells. Listed below are a few applications and uses of this microscope.

•    X-ray microscopes ensure optimum optical resolution in comparison to light microscopes.

•    These are used for highly specialized purposes of laboratory research and for viewing living cells.

•    In all living cell research this microscope is preferred for optimum resolution in images.


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