Microscopes have helped us a great deal in understanding the world around us that is made up of innumerable sub-atomic particles. In order to fully understand the real life implications of these tiny particles, it is very essential that these particles are closely observed, analyzed and a conclusion is drawn on their behaviors. Microscopes that are used in laboratories which examine particles not visible to the naked eye are known as lab microscopes.
Primarily, there are two kinds of microscopes known as the low-power microscopes and high-power microscopes. While low-power microscopes are just used to magnify visibly smaller items, a high-power microscope is used to magnify into particles and organisms that can neither be seen with naked eyes nor low-power microscopes. Hence, lab microscopes fall under the category of high-power microscopes and are extensively used in applications like medical research and diagnosis, forensics, educational uses, scientific research and more. Also, there are two main types of light microscope: Compound and Stereo microscope. If you’re buying a lab microscope for the very first time, here is a list of things that you must not neglect at any cost.
1. Compound Microscope
First and foremost, if you are buying a lab microscope, you need to understand that you are buying a compound microscope. A compound microscope is a high-power microscope which includes at least two lenses, one known as the objective lens and the other known as the eyepiece. Contrary to this, a simple microscope is a low-power microscope that uses only one lens known as the eyepiece and used for simple applications. Hence, make sure you only buy a high-power compound microscope (http://www.ehow.com/about_5046176_compound-microscope.html) which can be used as a lab microscope.
Magnification essentially means the magnifying power of both objective lens and the eyepiece. The objective lens is placed closer to the specimen and considering the scale of the specimens you’d want to observe, carefully choose the scale of the magnification. Objective lenses of magnification 40x, 100x, 400x and 1000x are mostly preferred in the use of lab microscopes. An eyepiece further magnifies the image of the sample and hence the eyepiece should have a minimum magnification of 10x to observe specimens like micro-organisms, viruses, bacteria, blood samples, sub-atomic particles and more in a laboratory.
While observing in microscopes we need to focus on particular parts of the specimen under observation and given the small size of the specimen, focusing has to be mechanical and precise at the most. There are two kinds of focus available in microscopes namely coarse focus and fine focus. While the coarse focus is only found in low-power microscopes, it falls behind the fine focus when it comes to precision and accuracy. Given the type of specimens observed under lab microscopes and their extremely small size, you would need coarse focus to closely navigate through the specimen and observe the tiniest details.
Lighting is a pretty important concept in lab microscopes as they illuminate the tiniest specimens under observation that are not visible to the naked eye. The light is cast below the objective lens and LEDs are the new favorite light bulbs of lab personnel and manufacturers alike. Though halogen bulbs are preferred for bright white light, they are avoided when the heat emitted can damage the specimen. In such cases, LEDs and fluorescent are the most ideal light bulbs as they emit very little light.
5. Mechanical Stage
The specimens are always placed on a stage in a microscope, which is lit from the down using a light source and observed using the objective lens and the eyepiece. While observing the specimen it has to be moved around to cover the entire structure and given the small size of the specimen even a small hand movement could really change the observation. Hence, while buying a lab microscope, make sure you buy one that has a mechanical stage which could be moved by little increments, one notch at a time.
So to conclude, while you are buying a lab microscope make sure that it is a high-power compound microscope which has a good magnification scale of 100x or more, fine focus, LED lighting and a mechanical stage.
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