Five Reasons to Use Inverted Microscopes in Biological Applications

Without microscopes it is hard to imagine the scientific and technological progress that we witness every day. These instruments are the gateways to the sub-atomic and microscopic world of electrons, viruses and bacteria. Little tiny things, invisible to the naked eye have revealed so many secrets about the world we live in and are still hiding so many secrets yet to be discovered. Research and treatment in biology and chemistry has been continuously made for centuries and the role microscopes have to play in this endless study is enormous. This article explores the reasons why inverted microscopes are the best choice for biological applications like research and treatment.

We are all familiar with the usually used upright microscopes which have the objective lens on the top and the stage at the bottom, lit by a light source placed underneath. But in 1850, J. Lawrence Smith invented a new breed of microscopes, known as the inverted microscopes, which have changed the face of research in biological applications forever. In a typical inverted microscope, the objective lens is placed at the bottom of the setup and the stage is placed above it. Hence, while observing, one has to look up to examine the sample, lit by a light source above it, therefore the name inverted microscope.

Five Reasons to Use Inverted Microscopes in Biological ApplicationsWhy Inverted Microscope?

The most important reason which led to the discovery of this instrument is gravity. Yes, samples observed in a microscope are not free from gravity, and while observing aqueous samples like living organisms or cell structures, it was seen that the sample settled down the slide due to the downward push and hence accurate observations couldn’t be made. However, this situation was easily resolved using an inverted microscope. This is because, one observes the sample from below with this instrument and whether or not the sample is affected by gravity; the observation is not affected one bit.

Reasons to Use Inverted Microscopes in Biological Applications

There are several reasons why inverted microscopes make for an excellent choice of lab microscopes when it comes to biological applications like cell observation, in-vitro fertilization, epi-fluorescence and video microscopy.

1. Allows all kinds of samples

When it comes to biological applications, it is necessary that the samples are sometimes alive, and the life history and manifestation of small microorganisms are observed as it is. This requires that the samples are observed for weeks and upright microscopes won’t support this cause. The constricted environment of slides and cover slips in upright microscopes will harm the sample and moreover allow only a sample of the culture and not the culture itself. On the contrary, using inverted microscopes, one can observe the entire culture placed in a petri dish and not worry about taking small samples.

2. Easier to use and easier to prepare samples

Continuing the above point, one need not prepare samples as long as the culture itself can be placed for observation. There’s no need for a sample press for accuracy while observing under an inverted microscope and also processing of only one side of the sample is sufficient to complete the observation. Since the sample moves in the same direction as the observer moves the stage, it is very easy to understand the operations of an inverted microscope, even for beginners.

3. Less risky

Crashing the objective lens into the sample is a significant risk upright microscope user normally faces. Once the sample under observation is destroyed, it starts a chain reaction of time delays and extra work that kills productivity. However, there is no risk as such in inverted microscopes used in biological applications as the sample is placed above the objective.

4. Sample need not be processed

For greater visibility under upright microscopes, the samples are normally stained and this leads to the wastage of the sample over time. However, while using inverted microscopes, one can make use of the features such as Kohler Illumination, DIC and phase contrast optics for greater visibility and thus leave the sample untouched for longer life.

5. Technically advanced

Lastly, inverted microscopes are technically more advanced as they have many ports which allow it to connect to recording devices, computers and TV screens for real-time review and observation.

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