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  • Collecting Light: The Importance of Numerical Aperture in Microscopy

    Numerical aperture (abbreviated as ‘NA’) is an important consideration when trying to distinguish detail in a specimen viewed down the microscope. NA is a number without units and is related to the angles of light which are collected by a lens. In calculating NA (see below), the refractive index of a medium is also taken into account and by matching the refractive index of a slide or cell culture container with an immersion medium, then more of the detail of a specimen will be resolved. The way in which light behaves when travelling from one medium to another is also related to NA (and termed ‘refraction’). This article also covers a brief history of refraction and how this concept is a limiting factor in achieving high NA.
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  • Microscope Resolution: Concepts, Factors and Calculation

    In microscopy, the term ‘resolution’ is used to describe the ability of a microscope to distinguish detail. In other words, this is the minimum distance at which two distinct points of a specimen can still be seen - either by the observer or the microscope camera - as separate entities. The resolution of a microscope is intrinsically linked to the numerical aperture (NA) of the optical components as well as the wavelength of light which is used to examine a specimen. In addition, we have to consider the limit of diffraction which was first described in 1873 by Ernst Abbe. This article covers some of the history behind these concepts as well as explaining each using relatively simple terminology.
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  • A Brief History of Light Microscopy – From the Medieval Reading Stone to Super-Resolution

    The history of microscopy begins in the Middle Ages. As far back as the 11th century, plano-convex lenses made of polished beryl were used in the Arab world as reading stones to magnify manuscripts. However, the further development of these lenses into the first microscopes cannot be attributed to any one person. It took the ideas and designs of many scientists and scholars to produce instruments capable of strong magnification.
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  • Using Telecentric Optical Systems to Optimize Forensic Image Accuracy and Reproducibility

    When the first compound microscopes were invented in 1590, scientists marveled at their new ability to see tiny objects and features that were previously invisible to the eye and therefore seemingly nonexistent. Ever since then, the study of these miniscule details has brought science into a forensic world once ruled by intuition and deduction. Choosing a microscope with the right optics can reduce these hidden errors considerably to provide results that are both more accurate and more reproducible – two attributes that are both essential in modern forensics.
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  • Using Telecentric Optical Systems to Optimize Industrial Image Accuracy and Reproducibility

    When the first multi-lens microscopes were invented in 1590, scientists marveled at their new ability to SEE small objects and features in the natural world that were previously invisible to the eye and therefore seemingly nonexistent. With the constant miniaturization of parts and products in automated manufacturing over the past 5 decades, the use of microscopes has spread increasingly from science to industry. Today microscopes are found in a multitude of assembly and inspection applications wherever visualization and measurement of miniscule features are required.
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  • What Does 30,000:1 Magnification Really Mean?

    One important criterion concerning the performance of an optical microscope is magnification. This report will offer digital microscopy users helpful guidelines to determine the useful range of magnification values.
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  • Optical Microscopes – Some Basics

    The optical microscope has been a standard tool in life science as well as material science for more than one and a half centuries now. To use this tool economically and effectively, it helps a lot to understand the basics of optics, especially of those essential components which are part of every microscope.
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  • Factors to Consider When Selecting a Stereo Microscope

    Stereo microscopes are often nicknamed the workhorse of the lab or the production department. Users spend many hours behind the ocular inspecting, observing, documenting or dissecting samples. Which factors need to be considered when selecting...
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  • Digital Cameras

    Manufacturers digital cameras race to outdo each other with ever-increasing numbers of megapixels. The world record for professional medium format digital cameras has now surpassed 60 megapixels per shot using a very large and expensive sensor with a resolution of about 9000 x 6700 pixels. Each time you capture such an image you get about 180 MB of uncompressed data and even more if you switch to 16-bit per colour for full dynamic range.
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  • Beware of "Empty" Magnification

    This article explains how to avoid the phenomen of "empty magnification" in microscopy.
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  • FusionOptics – Combines high resolution and depth of field for ideal 3D optical Images

    A study carried out jointly by Leica Microsystems and the Institute of Neuroinformatics at the University of Zurich and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology provided the basis for an innovation in stereomicroscopy: FusionOptics™. The significant performance increase attained by FusionOptics™ is highly valuable for everyday work at the microscope.
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