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Bright field Microscopy

In this modality of microscopy an image of the sample is generated by absorbance of some of the transmitted light (i.e. light going through the sample) by dense areas in the sample. A bright field microscopy image typically appears dark on a bright background, hence the name.

Fluorescence Microscopy

Fluorescence microscopy is used to image fluorescent molecules in a specimen. To that end, illumination, incident light arriving onto the specimen excites the fluorescent molecules to emit fluorescent light which is then viewed through the eyepiece. The incident light is filtered out before it arrives to the eyepieces and therefore the image appears as bright features on a dark background. The two most common modalities of fluorescence microscopy are wide-field and confocal scanning.

Wide-field Fluorescence Microscopy

The illumination and fluorescent light cover the whole visual field of the microscope objective. The image can be viewed through the eyepieces or detected by a camera.

Confocal Scanning Fluorescence Microscopy

This type of fluorescence microscopy is: (1) confocal because it reduces the collection of light away from the focal plane (i.e. it collects light from optical sections) and (2) scanning because laser light is scanned through a narrow area of the specimen to generate fluorescent light; the image is not wide-field because the scanned area is smaller that the visual field of the microscope objective. In this type of microscopy, the image cannot be viewed through the eyepieces. Instead, the fluorescent light is collected by specialized detectors and a dedicated computer program assembles an image that can be view on a computer monitor and saved as a digital file.

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Last Updated: 9/25/14