Scientific Microscopes

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Scientific Microscopes

We can supply a full range of scientific and laboratory microscopes and accessories from Nikon, Prior Scientific and Optika. These can be used in Education, Industry, Pathology, Medical Research, Life Sciences, Metallurgy, Geology, Archaeology, Forensic Medicine, etc.

Two Basic Types of Scientific Microscopes

Light microscopes are divided into two basic classes: Dissecting (Stereo) and Compound (Biological)

Dissecting (Stereo) Microscopes with which you will see your specimen in three dimensions (3-D) but magnification is limited to between 5x and 200x. This third dimension, depth, allows you to inspect larger samples such as component parts, plants, stamps, coins, insects, fossils, rocks, archaeological samples or to guide you during fine dissection. They have long working distance objectives to enable larger specimens to be observed and cover a wide field of view. Stereo zoom microscopes refers to the ability to smoothly move the microscope body up and down to zoom the view closer to or further away from the object.

The 3-D effect in the stereo microscope is achieved because each of the two eyepieces must capture a separate image from its own magnifying lens, known as an objective. The paired objectives work together to show slightly different views of an object to obtain a 3-D image, the same way human eyes work together to obtain depth perception.

Illumination design commonly provides for incident light - light falling on the specimen - and transmitted light - light passing through the specimen from a light source within the base (duplex stand). Pillar and universal stands can also be used with external illumination sources. Optional fibre optic illuminators offer very even incident illumination and others offer very specific spot illumination. Fluorescent ring light illuminators are also available.

Models with a trinocular head (as opposed to standard binocular) can be used for photographic work with the attachment of a camera system.

Dissecting microscopes available from Progen Scientific include the Prior Scientific StereoMaster 3 (stereo), ZoomMaster 40 and ZoomMaster 65 range (stereo zoom models) as well as the Nikon SM-5 (stereo), SMZ645, SMX660, SMZ800, SMK1000 and SMZ1500 (stereo zoom models)

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Compound Microscopes ( also known as biological microscopes) have enormous magnification range from 10x to 1,500x and can reveal details at the cellular level. This is the microscope preferred by medical laboratory technologists examining blood and urine, pathologists screening tissue specimens or smears for cancer cells and microbiologists identifying bacteria in cultures. Compound microscopes take their name from the calculation of magnification by compounding the power of the eyepiece x the power of the objective to get total magnification. Because of the magnification the field of view is small and because there is no depth perception (as opposed to dissecting microscopes) samples are usually mounted on microscope slides.

Except for some applications in which light shines on the specimen from above, most compound microscopes use transmitted light (transillumination), light projected from below, to pass through the specimen to the magnifying objective lens. The magnified image of the specimen projects through the draw tube to the eyepiece where it is magnified, usually by another 10x. The eyepiece sends the image to our eyes where the lens projects it on to our retina.

Models with a trinocular head (as opposed to standard binocular) can be used for photographic work with the attachment of a camera system.

Compound microscopes available from Progen Scientific include the Prior Scientific PriorLab and PriorLux ranges and the Nikon Eclipse range (E200, E400, etc.)

Inverted Microscopes have a light source and condenser on the top above the specimen stage pointing down, and the objectives and turret are below the stage pointing up. Inverted microscopes are useful for observing living cells or organisms at the bottom of a large container (e.g. a tissue culture flask) under more natural conditions than a glass slide, as is the case with a conventional microscope.

Inverted microscopes available from Progen Scientific include the Optika XDS Series plus the Nikon Eclipse TS100/TS100-F and Eclipse TE2000 Series

Glossary of Microscope Terms

  • Abbe Condenser is an advanced illumination system which uses a lens under the stage that would typically move in the vertical direction. It would usually also have an adjustable iris to control the beam diameter of the light prior to entering the lens. By adjusting the iris opening and the lens distance from the target, the user has very good control over the amount of light and its focal point.
  • Achromatic Lens is a lens specially designed and coated to correct for the tendency of light to separate into colours when passing through glass. An achromatic lens corrects this such that colours are more accurate after being magnified.
  • BinocularMicroscope is a compound microscope with two eyepieces viewing down a single optical channel and objective. This is differs from a stereo microscope which has a separate optical channel for each eye.
  • C-mount is a threaded standard developed for mounting a camera to a lens. Most commonly used for video cameras.
  • Coaxial Controls is a configuration where one knob is centred on top of another. For example, coarse and fine focus may have a larger coarse focus knob with a fine focus knob on top of it. Also commonly used for mechanical stage X/Y movement.
  • Compound Microscope is literally a microscope with multiple lenses. It would typically include multiple user selectable objective lenses of varying magnifications and present a two dimensional view
  • DIN Standard Objectives conform to an international standard which dictates the design compatibility of the objective lens. Therefore DIN standard objectives from one manufacturer can be used in another manufacturer's DIN standard compatible microscope.
  • Eyepiece (or ocular) is the lens closest to your eye when looking through a microscope. A binocular or stereo microscope will have two, a monocular microscope will have two. It also plays a critical role in the total system magnification.
  • Eyepiece Tube or Eyetube is the tube into which the eyepiece lens is set. This is typically presented at an angle for comfortable viewing or the angle can be varied as in ergonomic heads. However, it may also be mounted in a vertical position such as on a trinocular or dual-view microscope for either a second viewer, or for a camera designed to fit inside an eyetube.
  • Field Diaphragm controls how much light enters the substage condenser and, consequently, the rest of the microscope.
  • Interpupillary Distance is the distance between the two eyepieces. Typically it is adjusted to accommodate different users. Some microscopes also have graduated scales to indicate the actual distance between the eyepieces, allowing a user to determine the optimum number and then quickly set it before each use.
  • Irsi Diaphragm is a circular device with a variable diameter used to regulate the amount of light admitted to an objective lens.
  • Koehler Illumination is a highly effective illumination design and is the proper alignment of the incident or illuminating light for microscopy. Every time you use the microscope for transmitted light work, whether brightfield, phase contrast or DIC, you must align the condenser lens to assure Koehler illumination is optimal. If you fail to do this, you will have poor resolution, poor contrast artifacts and unevenly lit pictures.
  • Mechanical Stage is a mechanism mounted on top, or as part, of the stage that allows the operator to move the specimen slide in the X or Y direction by turning a knob. Very useful at higher magnifications as it can be difficult to move the slide by habd otherwise since it must be moved such a small amount. Mos mechanical stages come with a graduated scale so you can see how far the slide has been moved or keep track of the position of various objects on the slide.
  • Monocular Microscope is a compound microscope with one eyepiece.
  • Objective lens is the lens in a microscope closest to the specimen. In a compound microscope there are usually 3, 4 or 5 objective lenses allowing a selection of magnification levels.
  • Oil Immersion Lens is a lens designed to be immersed in oil. A drop of immersion oil is placed on top of the cover glass and the lens is slowly lowered until it rests in the oil. This allows the light to pass through oil rather than air, and at higher magnifications, results in a crisper, higher contrast image.
  • Parcentred refers to a lens design such that specimens that appear in focus at one magnification will also appear focused when the magnification level is changed. Keep in mind, however, that depth of field (how much of a specimen's height will appear in focus at one time) changes significantly when magnification is changed. The higher the magnification, the shallower the depth of field.
  • Phase Contrast is a technique using special objectives and condenser system to enhance the contrast of unstained, relatively transparent specimens such as blood and other tissue cells, thereby allowing microscopic viewing of living tissue. It is a sophisticated technique that shifts the light 'phase' ¼ wavelength, causing any light deviated by the specimen to appear dark on a light background. Development of this technique by inventor Fritz Zernike earned him a Nobel prize in physics in 1953.
  • Planachromatic objective lens overcomes the problem of distortion caused by spherical, chromatic and field curvature of some lenses.
  • Rack Stop is a safety feature consisting of a mechanical stop, usually adjustable, which prevents the objective lens from hitting the microscope stage.
  • Seidentopf is a head design where the interpupillary adjustment (increasing or decreasing the distance between the eyepieces) is achieved by twisting the eyepieces in an up and down arc motion like binoculars.
  • Slip Clutch is a safety device usually located on the focus knob allowing the kbob to 'slip' and continue turning when it reached the end of the travel, or if it runs into the stage. Due to the gear ratios involved, without this it may be possible to damage the mechanism by applying too much force to the knob after it has reached the end.
  • Turret or Objective Turret is the rotatable piece into which the microscope's objective lenses are attached. A 'turret' style stereo microscope refers to the type that has more than one objective lens which can then be rotated into position. On a compound microscope the turret is the ring holding the objective lenses allowing the operator to rotate them into position as needed.
  • T-mount is a photographic mechanical mounting standard developed in 1957 originally intended as a universal lens mount fot 35mm. cameras. There are now T-mounts available for a large variety of digital and film cameras making it a good method for mounting cameras to microscopes. The thread (a.k.a. T-thread) is specified as 42mm. diameter and 0.75mm. pitch, or M42-75
  • Trinocular microscope is a binocular microscope with a third, vertical viewing port. The vertical port can be used with an eyepiece for a second person, such as an instructor, to view the specimen, or it can be used with an adaptor and a video or still camera.
  • Widefield Eyepiece (WF) is an eyepiece with an achromatic doublet lens designed in such a way that it does not have to be limited to viewing only in the centre, and the portion of the lens that allows non-distorted viewing is larger than a normal lens. This appears to the user as a bigger aperture or 'hole' to look through. It therefore has the advantage of being easier to use and more forgiving of a user's head movements. An eyepiece listed as WF 10x/18mm. would indicate it has a widefield achromatic doublet, 10x magnification and is 18mm. diameter.

See our range of Scientific Microscopes

See our other Laboratory Equipment Buyer's Guide

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Call Progen Scientific to discuss your requirements on 020 85422283 Click here to make an enquiry about a biological safety cabinet

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