Monday, October 31, 2011

Vibrationa Isolation Tables and Platforms

In microscopy, vibrations can make time lapse imaging unusable and micromanipulation impossible. Vibration isolation platforms and vibration isolation tables are designed to stop vibrations from being transmitted to the microscope or other sensitive equipment, thus insuring a more stable platform for imaging, microsurgery and in-vitro fertilization. 
These vibration isolation tables and platforms use a passive mechanical design that does not need compressed air or hoses and requires no maintenance. The vibration isolation bearings eliminate low frequency effects in both the horizontal and vertical directions.

Here are a few other tips for dampening some of the vibrations that are often a part of the modern lab environment:
  • Place the equipment away from obvious problem areas like elevator shafts, heating and cooling fans, and even vents.
  • Put other equipment such as shakers, refrigerators, and incubators on a separate table away from the microscope.
  • Put power supplies on a shelf or on the floor away from the equipment.
  • Use the heaviest table available.
  • Put a thin foam pad between the microscope and the table.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Measuring Microscopes

Measuring microscope systems are composed of high quality metallurgical microscopes with Japanese optics, precision X-Y stages and durable heavy-duty stands. Digimatic readouts are available for X, Y and Z axis and can be set for English or Metric measurements.

Measuring microscope systems are available with a simple binocular viewing head, or a trinocular head configured with a camera for capturing and/or viewing live images on a monitor. This often helps operators perform visual inspection and measurement of small parts and components without complicated system preparations. Illumination provides relfected and/or transmitted light. The measuring microscope systems include 50x, 100x, 200x and 400x magnification and optional objectives can be added to increase magnification to 500x, 600x or even 1000x. For questions about metallurgical measuring microscope systems please email us.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gout Microscopes

For specialized medical applications such as identifying gout or CPPD (pseudo-gout) crystals suspended in synovial fluid, gout microscopes assembled specifically for gout identification are used by labs and health professionals worldwide.

Medical professionals diagnose gout by taking synovial fluid from the infected joint in the process of arthrocentesis. Lab technicians prepare a wet smear on a slide and use polarized microscopy to determine the presence of sodium urate crystals (gout) or calcium pyrophosphate dehydrate or CPPD within the fluid extracted from the infected joint. CPPD crystals are small rods, squares, or rhomboids and are usually harder to identify without a gout or polarized light microscope.

Polarizing filters can easily be adjusted when using the gout microscope, and the beam splitter allows light to be directed directly up to the camera if images need to be captured. If you have questions about a specific gout microscope setup, please email us.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What Magnification Do I Need?

Working with microscopes, we often get asked what magnification is needed to look at a variety of specimens. Here are some common items that are viewed under the microscope and the magnification required to view them.

  • Blood - a minimum of 400x magnification is best for viewing blood cells. The nucleus of a blood cell can be seen at 400x magnification, but more detail can be viewed at 1000x.
  • Bacteria - 400x magnification is required in order to identify bacteria.
  • Coins - it is best to view coins anywhere between 10x-30x magnification.
  • Stamps - stamp collectors most commonly use 20x magnification.
  • Printed circuit boards - between 10x-40x zoom magnification typically makes viewing details and flaws on printed circuit boards easier. The stereo zoom function is helpful.
  • Insects - anywhere between 10x and 30x magnification is best for viewing spiders, ants and insects.
 Human blood under the microscope at 400x magnification.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Children's Microscopes

With the holidays just around the corner, finding creative holiday gifts for kids can be a challenge. Microscopes make great educational gifts for kids.

Below you will find our four top choices for children's microscope gift ideas.

The 109L microscope is available either as a cordless model or corded. This microscope has 40x, 100x, and 400x magnification. Perfect for kids ages 6+, this microscope has glass optics and both coarse & fine focusing, making it easier to get a crisp and clearly focused image. The microscope is perfect for viewing pond water, or one of the ten prepared slides that comes free with the microscope. The microscope also includes a DVD "Adventures with a microscope", access to our Educational Resource Library with activities and print-outs for kids to use with the microscope, as well as blank slides and cover slips to create their own specimens.

The D-EL1 digital microscope is perfect for capturing images, or viewing them live on the computer. The built-in LED light illuminates insects, coins, or anything else the camera is magnifying. The included software allows you to capture and save images for future reference on the computer. Camera includes a metal stand (as shown).

Model 185 microscope offers 20x magnification and requires no additional light in order to view specimens. This microscope is perfect for children ages 5+. It's a great microscope for viewing insects, flowers, currency - anything that you can hold in your hand, but want to see in a bit more detail. Newsprint is especially fun to look at under the microscope, as you can view the small dots of ink on the paper.

The DM52 digital kids microscope makes a great holiday gift. This microscope has 40x, 100x and 400x magnification. It can be used as a stand-alone microscope, or it can be hooked up to the computer. The included software allows you to view a live image on the computer, capture and save images and even make measurements. The microscope includes the following free accessories: DVD "Adventures with a Microscope", prepared slides, blank slides and access to the customer educational resource section of Microscope World's website.

Monday, October 24, 2011

TRITC Fluorescence

TRITC is a common filter set used with an epi-fluorescence microscope. The images below are of privet leaves - a plant introduced in the US from China for ornamental planting. These plants have become very invasive in the southern US.

 40x magnification.

These images of a c.s. of a privet leaf were captured using a TRITC filter on the MT6300 epi-fluorescent microscope. The PRCFscan microscope camera was used to capture the images.

100x magnification.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Metallurgical Microscope Darkfield vs. Brightfield

Metallurgical microscopes provide high magnification with reflected light - in particular, they allow you to view objects that will not allow light to pass through them, with higher magnification and optical quality than a stereo microscope would provide.

All the images shown below were captured with the MT8530 metallurgical microscope using reflected light that shines down through the objective lens. The MC2000 microscope camera (2 mega pixels) was used to captured the images.

Stainless steel captured at 200x magnification using brightfield.

When viewing metals with a metallurgical microscope, darkfield often makes it easier to view small craters and depth within substances. Because of the reflective nature of metals, darkfield takes the light and pushes it up around the sides of the object, often removing the glare from the image, without sacrificing so much light as to lose sight of the details within the image.

Stainless steel captured at 200x magnification using darkfield.

Steel captured at 500x magnification using brightfield.
Steel captured at 500x magnification using darkfield.

Steel captured at 500x magnification using brightfield.

Steel captured at 500x magnification using darkfield.

From the images above it is easier to see how darkfield microscopy can often highlight the depth of ridges and craters within metals. If you have any questions about metallurgical microscopes or darkfield microscopy please feel free to email us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Metals Under the Microscope

Viewing metals under a microscope may be performed with two different types of microscopes. Because metal does not allow light to pass through it, in order to view the metal you will need either a stereo microscope for lower magnification, or a metallurgical microscope for higher magnification. These microscopes will need to have reflected (from above) light. Stereo microscopes almost always have reflected light, while metallurgical microscopes can have transmitted and/or reflected light.

Stainless steel captured at 100x magnification with the MT8530 metallurgical microscope using a MC2000 microscope camera. This camera has 2 mega pixels.

Steel captured at 100x using the same microscope and camera system as above.

Brass captured at 100x magnification, using the same microscope and camera system above.

10x magnification captured with a stereo microscope.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stereo Microscopes: Greenough vs. Common Main Objective

There are two types of optical systems created in stereo microscopes: the Greenough optical system and the Common Main Objective (CMO) optical system.

The Greenough design, introduced by Zeiss at the turn of the twentieth century, consists of two identical (and symmetrical) optical systems each containing a separate eyepiece and objective arranged in accurate alignment with a single housing. This design allows high numerical apertures because the objectives are very similar to those used in compound microscopes. The lower section of the microscope contains the objectives, while the upper end of the body tubes project an image to the eyes.

 Image courtesy of MicroscopyU - shows the difference in Greenough and CMO designs.

Common Main Objective stereo microscopes have more light-gathering power than the Greenough design and are often corrected more for optical aberration. The greatest design feature and practical advantage of a CMO stereo microscope is the infinity optical system that allows for effortless introduction of accessories such as beamsplitters, drawing tubes, coaxial episcopic illuminators, etc. It is also possible to place these items in between the objective and the zoom body, whereas in the Greenough design this is not an option.

Greenough stereo microscopes are typically used for everyday applications such as printed circuit board inspection, dissection of biological specimens, or any routine tasks. The lower price of a Greenough microscope along with its ruggedness make it easy to use and maintain.

CMO stereo microscopes are typically used for more complex applications that require high resolutions and advanced optical and illumination accessories. CMO systems can cost twice as much as Greenough stereo microscopes due to the complex nature in design of the system.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Human Heart

If you were to live to age 75, over the course of your life your heart would beat more than 2.5 billion times. A muscular organ, the human heart pumps blood throughout the body.

Image courtesy ZooFari.

Some facts about the human heart:
  • It is the size of a fist.
  • The heart is like a double pump - the right side collects de-oxygenated blood, while the left side collects oxygentated blood.
  • The heart is divided into four main chambers.
  • The double membrane of the protective sac surrounding the heart is filled with pericardial fluid which nourishes the heart and prevents the heart from shocks.
This image of the human heart was captured with a biological microscope using a Jenoptik C14 microscope camera.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Video Inspection Microscopes

Video inspection microscope systems allow viewing of small parts and printed circuit boards on a screen, providing a larger image that reduces eye fatigue. These microscope systems are perfect for quality control areas where a number of parts need examination throughout the day.

Available in a range of magnifications and either with a live camera or a camera with capture option, the video microscope systems offer an affordable solution to streamlining quality control.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Penicillium Under the Microscope

Penicillium is a type of fungi that is most commonly known for its use in the drug industry. It produces penicillin, which is used as an antibiotic to kill and stop the growth of bacteria in the human body.

This image was captured using a biological microscope and an Infinity 1 microscope camera. You can view a fluorescence microscope penicillium image here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Teaching Microscopes

Many Universities and teaching institutions use either digital microscopes or teaching microscopes to facilitate the process of showing students the same image during instruction.

Digital microscopes allow the instructor to project an image onto a screen so all students can view the same microscope slide. This is especially helpful when the class size is a bit larger.
A teaching microscope however, can offer a bit of a different view point, in that the student can look through the microscope at the same time as the instructor. If the instructor wants to show the student the difference in an image while adjusting the condenser or changing lighting, the student can see exactly which parts of the microscope are being adjusted, while still viewing the microscopic image.
Teaching microscopes are available from two viewing heads, all the way up to ten viewing heads. You can view more teaching microscopes here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


One of the largest, best preserved and oldest archaeological sites in the world is located in southern Anatolia in Turkey. It has been studied in depth since its discovery in the 1950s by James Mellaart. Catalhoyuk was an active settlement for more than one thousand years in the Neolithic Period around 7400 BC through 6000 BC. The findings of artwork, tools and other artifacts combined with the layout of the homes and public buildings reveal an urban society with a complex social organization.

Details of the lives of these ancient people, what they ate, how they lived, and ritual practices such as burials have been more difficult to glean from the existing methods of archaeological examination. A recent development of adding a compound microscope to the tools utilized has yielded a wealth of information about these people living almost 10,000 years ago.

Lisa Marie Shillito, currently at the University of York, has used the technique referred to as "microarchaeology" to examine deposits at high resolution and identify food remains, bone fragments, crafts, tools, pottery materials, and ash from fires. Samples were prepared by setting blocks of sediment on resin, slicing and grounding down the sections so they could be examined with a polarized microscope equipped with a digital camera and imaging software to aid in analysis.

The thin-section micromorphology technique gives a more subtle understanding of these ancient people, their routines, practices and even values. For instance, their homes were kept clean with frequent re-plastering of the walls and well maintained living quarters. The rubbish was maintained in well defined areas called middens which yielded ash and decayed organic materials including human waste which shows a diet that included cereals, seeds and meat.

 Microscopic examination of the ash reveals that animal dung was used as fuel.

Ovicaprid dung pellet close up showing reed stems.

This image is a partially burnt bone from the South area. Funerary rituals are inferred by the materials found with the bones, both plant materials and the impressions made by baskets and mats that had been placed with skeletons.

You can view a video of the Ankara Museum of Anatolian civilization here.

The value of microscopy in this exciting work cannot be overestimated and will continue to yield more information in archaeology just as it does in the other fields of science and medicine. The microscope is and always has been, a tool of discovery.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Red Tide Phytoplankton

Red tide is a common name for algae bloom in coastal areas. The algae are known as phytoplankton. When the phytoplankton are found in large quantities during the day the water will appear murky or brown. At night, when the water is disturbed (such as with the crashing of a wave), the red tide fluoresces and creates a bright blue light within the wave.

Image courtesy of Mike in Carlsbad, CA. You can view another red tide image here.

Since there is currently a red tide in Carlsbad, Microscope World gathered some ocean water and put it under the microscope to see what the phytoplankton looked like.

All images were captured using the National Optical DC5-163 digital microscope at 400x magnification.

Although phytoplankton are too small to see with the naked eye, when grouped in large numbers they can make water appear green or discolored due to the chlorophyll in their cells.