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Optical Microscopy

The optical microscope, often referred to as the "light microscope", is a type of microscope which uses visible light and a system of lenses to magnify images of small samples. Optical microscopes are the oldest design of microscope and were designed around 1600. Basic optical microscopes can be very simple, although there are many complex designs which aim to improve resolution and sample contrast. Historically optical microscopes were easy to develop and are popular because they use visible light so the sample can be directly observed by eye.

cogsHow does it work?

The image from an optical microscope can be captured by normal light-sensitive cameras to generate a micrograph. Originally images were captured by photographic film but modern developments in CMOS and later charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras allow the capture of digital images. Purely Digital microscopes are now available which just use a CCD camera to examine a sample, and the image is shown directly on a computer screen without the need for eye-pieces.


Microelectronics; nanophysics; biotechnology; pharmaceutical research; microbiology; forensics; failure analysis; paints; surface coatings

Sample Handling Requirements:

Solid sample (<150mm) size

Complementary Techniques:

Confocal Microscopy, SEM.

Warwick Capability:

Zeiss Stemi 2000 Stereo Microscope, Zeiss Axio Imager Microscope.


Claire Gerard: c dot gerard at warwick dot ac dot uk / 07385 145064

Optical microscopy equipment

Typical results format, and sample:

Optical result - mouse intestine


Warwick collect/analyse data

Warwick collect data
 green_tick.gif Available to user with expertise/ contribution
 green_tick.gif Spare capacity for collaborative research