A Layperson's View of Future Technology and Society

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a scanning electron microscope picture of a nerve ending


Microscopy is the field of using microscopes to view objects. There are three well-known branches of microscopy, optical, electron and scanning probe microscopy.

The term resolution is the minimum distance between distinguishable objects in an image, although the term is loosely used by many users of microscopes and telescopes to describe resolving power.

Source: Wikipedia

Virtual Microscopes

Virtual microscopes can emulate a scanning electron (or other) microscope and they allow users to zoom up to 3,600X magnification and focus into a variety of built-in microscopic samples.

Virtual Lab 2.0

The Virtual Electron Microscope



Virtual Microscope Training


Optical Microscopes

old microscope


Optical or light microscopy involves passing visible light transmitted through or reflected from the sample through a single or multiple lenses to allow a magnified view of the sample.


Optical microscopes, through their use of visible wavelengths of light, are the simplest and hence most widely used type of microscope.


Typical magnification of a light microscope is up to 1500x with a theoretical resolution limit of around 0.2 micrometers or 200 nanometers.


Source: Wikipedia

Low temperature scanning electron microscope a snow crystal

Electron Microscopes

An electron microscope is a type of microscope that uses electrons to illuminate a specimen and create an enlarged image. Electron microscopes have much greater resolving power than light microscopes and can obtain much higher magnifications. Some electron microscopes can magnify specimens up to 2 million times, while the best light microscopes are limited to magnifications of 2000 times.



Low temperature scanning electron microscope a snow crystal courtesy of: Wikimedia

Scanning Probe Microscopy

artist impression of atomic force microscope


Scanning probe microscopy (SPM) is a branch of microscopy that forms images of surfaces using a physical probe that scans the specimen. An image of the surface is obtained by mechanically moving the probe in a raster scan of the specimen, line by line, and recording the probe-surface interaction as a function of position.

Examples of scanning probe microscopes are the atomic force microscope (AFM), the scanning tunneling microscope and the photonic force microscope.




Microscope Articles, Blogs and Web Sites

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Future Microscopy Articles
Title Source Date
New microscopy technique captures 3-D images of cells as they flow through a microfluidic channel Phys.Org 03/14
New microscope captures movements of atoms and molecules Phys.Org 11/13
How to make cost-effective, ultra-high-performance microscopes KurzweilAi.net 08/13
The world's most advanced extreme-ultraviolet microscope Berkeley Lab 06/13
Seeing in Color at the Nanoscale Berkeley Lab 12/12
Small worlds come into focus with new Sandia microscope Sandia Labs 11/12
Supermicroscope installed at University of Victoria CBC News 06/12
Giant Virus, Tiny Protein Crystals Show X-ray Laser's Power and Potential SLAC 02/11
First-ever real-time images of atomic bonding NSF 02/11
Nanoimaging in 3-D PhysOrg 12/09
Scientists 'Write' With Atoms Using An Atomic Force Microscope ScienceDaily 01/09
Improving our ability to peek inside molecules PhysOrg 09/08
Ion microscope ORNL ??/??
Electron Microscopy Peter v. Sengbusch 07/03


Future Microscope Web Sites and Blogs
Title Description
2012 Cell Imaging Competition Super-resolution microscopy contest from GE
World's Best Microscope T.E.A.M. Project
National Center For Electron Microscopy Berkeley Lab
EIPBN Micrograph Contest Zyvex Labs
What is a Micrograph? Wikipedia
Scanning Electron Microscopy Iowa State University
Nanotheater Veeco
Molecular Expressions  Florida State University
Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis University of Queensland, AU
Nanoscale Image Contest FEI
NanoBiophotonics Max Planck Institute
MicroWorlds University of California Regents
History of the Microscope About.com
How an SEM works Museum of Science, Boston
Small World Nikon


Microscopy Multimedia
Title Description
A transmission electron micrograph of Geobacter sulfurreducens cells synthesizing a network of protein nanofilaments NSF micrograph
The nematode host Caenorhbaditis elegans encounters the bacterial pathogen S. marcescens NSF micrograph
Moving Individual Atoms with Tuning Forks Youtube video
Velcro, observed under video microscope Youtube video
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