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The performance of high-resolution objectives is optimal when the refractive indices of the specimen and all intermediate optical media match the values for which the objective is designed. Changes in coverglass thickness and temperature as well as inhomogeneous, thick specimens introduce refractive index mismatches. This causes deterioration of the point-spread function, geometric distortion, and chromatic aberration. These effects limit penetration depth, contrast, and intensity of the microscope images.
Immersion oil traditionally has a refractive index close to standard crown glass. Oil immersion objectives are designed for the refractive index of this oil. They are optimal when working close to the coverglass or with samples embedded in a medium with a refractive index close to that of immersion oil. For samples with refractive indices deviating from this value special objectives are offered. Most common are water immersion objectives, and glycerol immersion objectives. For a more detailed description of immersion media please refer here. Water and glycerol immersion objectives are very sensitive to changes in coverglass – introducing a changing thickness of a medium with refractive index mismatch – temperature, and deviations of the immersion medium or the sample itself. Therefore, water and glycerol immersion objectives with a higher NA have a correction collar to compensate for those differences.
The correction collar axially moves the central lens group and can be used to restore optimal image resolution and brightness. As manual adjustment of the correction collar requires time and experience and can disturb the sample, Leica offers water immersion objectives with a motorized correction collar.
CORR = Objective with correction collar