Optical Microscope Innovations
Major technological advances in the last one hundred years allow today’s microscopes to continue to play a vital role in medical and scientific research.
The microscope is important in the diagnosis of disease. Microscopic examination helps by providing information about the nature of the disease. Cytology plays an important role in the diagnosis of pre-cancerous lesions.
One example of a specialized microscope is the fluorescent microscope, which is particularly effective for studying living tissue. The specimen itself is treated with a fluorescent stain that attaches to particular molecules. The specimen is illuminated with ultraviolet light, which makes the stain visible.
Another example of specialized microscope is the petrographic microscope which is used to analyze the chemical and physical structure of rocks. These microscopes are fitted with filters to produce polarized light (with light waves oscillating in only one plane). Polarized light allows for the identification of different crystalline structures in rocks. The first petrographic microscopes were developed in the mid-19th century.
Canadian Heritage Information Network
© CHIN 2001