Monday, October 8, 2012

Student Microscopy Tips

There are a few tips that when followed, will make student microscope work a little less frustrating. Here are our top ten tips for a good microscopy experience:

  1. A compound microscope will give a two-dimensional, flat image. Use a compound microscope to examine specimens on prepared slides. Compound microscopes are available as either monocular (1 eyepiece), binocular (2 eyepieces) or trinocular (2 eyepieces + camera port).
  2. A stereo microscope has a binocular body and will provide a three-dimensional image. Use a stereo microscope for specimens that have depth or are large in size and require greater working distance. Stereo microscopes are perfect for items you can hold and view in your hand, but wish to view more magnification (flowers, a dollar bill, rocks, etc.)
  3. Start to focus using the lowest magnification. In a compound microscope, start with the 4x objective. Make sure the objective is clicked into place. With a stereo microscope, start by using the 1x objective. Once the specimen is in focus at a lower magnification, increase magnification.
  4. Always place the specimen in the center of the stage or stage plate. When using a compound microscope make certain the slide is placed on the stage with the light centered over it.
  5. When viewing a slide, make sure it is the right side up. This is especially important when using a prepared slide. If upside down, it will not be in focus at high power.
  6. Focus first using the coarse adjustment, then use the fine focus. You should be able to change from one objective (magnification) to another with just a minor fine focus adjustment. If you can do this, it means your microscope is parfocal.
  7. Adjust the illumination by using the intensity control and condenser or diaphragm.
  8. Remember when using higher magnifications you will need to adjust the light source.
  9. Always use proper care and handling of the microscope. Carry it with two hands, one hand around the arm of the microscope and the other hand under the base.
  10. Keep your microscope clean. To clean the lenses, first remove any dust and dirty by using a camel hair brush or canned air. Moisten the end of a Q-tip with lens cleaning solution. Keep the other end dry. Clean the optical surface with the moist end of the Q-tip using a circular motion. A solution of Windex with vinegar will also work. Use a dust cover when the microscope is not being used. Learn more microscope cleaning tips here.