The Resolution Solution

Confocal Microscopy Systems Drosophila wing imaginal disc showing expression of apterous (red), wingless (blue, and Delta (green). (Bio-Rad confocal system) In the early 17th century, Anton van Leeuwenhoek peered through a simple construction of lenses and screws and observed "animalcules" dancing through a drop of water. Ever since this discovery, humankind has been fascinated with the microscopic world. The ability to distinguish objects invisible to the naked eye has revolutionized our daily

Jeanne Mcadara
Feb 6, 2000

Confocal Microscopy Systems


Drosophila wing imaginal disc showing expression of apterous (red), wingless (blue, and Delta (green). (Bio-Rad confocal system)
In the early 17th century, Anton van Leeuwenhoek peered through a simple construction of lenses and screws and observed "animalcules" dancing through a drop of water. Ever since this discovery, humankind has been fascinated with the microscopic world. The ability to distinguish objects invisible to the naked eye has revolutionized our daily lives, affecting disease and public health, food preservation, water safety, agriculture, and the miniaturization of technology.

Surprisingly, though, nearly 400 years of development have resulted in only about a threefold increase in the magnifying power of the light microscope. There is no theoretical limit to the level of magnification achievable with an instrument, but at higher magnifications light waves coming from different parts of the sample interfere, making it difficult to resolve points close together. For a standard,...

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?