Microscopes are scientific instruments that are used to visualise objects that are too small to see with the naked eye

There are two main types of microscope: optical (light) microscopes and electron microscopes

Light Microscopes

  • Use lenses to bend light and magnify images by a factor of roughly 100-fold
  • Can be used to view living specimens in natural colour
  • Chemical dyes and fluorescent labelling may be applied to resolve specific structures

Electron Microscopes

  • Use electromagnets to focus electrons resulting in significantly greater magnifications and resolutions
  • Can be used to view dead specimens in monochrome (although false colour rendering may be applied)
    • Transmission electron microscopes (TEM) pass electrons through specimen to generate a cross-section
    • Scanning electron microscopes (SEM) scatter electrons over a surface to differentiate depth and map in 3D

Light versus Electron Microscopes

light vs electron microscopy