Improvements In Light Microscopy Lead To New Applications

Hosts of new applications have turned the light microscope into an exquisitely sensitive measuring device that can be used to image dynamic cellular events right down to the molecular level. Indeed, dramatic improvements in optical microscopy have brought about a renaissance in the use of light microscopes in biology and medicine. And within the last few years, the combination of novel optical systems with video and digital image processing capabilities have opened up whole new fields of resear

Holly Ahern
Nov 24, 1991
Hosts of new applications have turned the light microscope into an exquisitely sensitive measuring device that can be used to image dynamic cellular events right down to the molecular level. Indeed, dramatic improvements in optical microscopy have brought about a renaissance in the use of light microscopes in biology and medicine. And within the last few years, the combination of novel optical systems with video and digital image processing capabilities have opened up whole new fields of research in biology, chemistry, and even physics.

The invention that first enabled researchers to see clear images of living cells was the phase-contrast microscope, which won its inventor, Frits Zernike, a Nobel Prize in 1932. Prior to Zernike's work, specimens were typically stained with organic dyes with such colorful names as coomassie blue and malachite green. These dyes either stained the whole specimen to provide contrast or, preferably, stained only parts of cells,...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?