From over four thousand years ago when the first basic microscopes were made with water and lenses up to the modern electron microscope, technology has enabled humans to peer into the hidden knowledge of the world.
Today, digital microscopes have empowered the masses to enjoy the smaller things. Digital microscopes are the latest optical tools that provide high-quality pictures of tiny objects using digital cameras and image processing technologies.
Parts of a digital microscope
Just like the unseen can fascinate, the various parts that make up a digital microscope come together in an elegant form to bring things into focus. The primary parts of a digital microscope are:
- Light sources
- Objective lens
The camera is an important component of the hardware for the microscope, capable of taking still images or streaming live video of the studied medium. This is then viewed on a screen, which could amount to everything from a standard computer to something as simplistic as a person’s digital display screen on their iPhone.
In order to shed light on a specimen, a digital microscope requires a reliable and light source from above or beneath a slide. Helpful light sources often are fiber-optic, connecting to a power source with a controllable intensity to ensure that just the right light levels are present.
The stage of a microscope is a critical piece of hardware securing a specimen slide in place while simultaneously allowing for minute adjustments in positioning to make sure the best possible sight is in view for a slide.
All the hardware mentioned, however, would be useless without the objective lens; either a single lens or several lenses contained in a casing, trained to focus on a singular point. Because these are fixed, several different magnification levels are often employed to achieve multiple levels of magnification, allowing people to view everything from computer components, down to nuclei in cells.
Because digital microscopes now rely on a computer to partner with the lens to increase and decrease magnification levels, software has also become an essential component for digital microscopes to function. Fortunately, a wide variety of apps are available for smartphones for people to test and determine what works best for their needs.
Benefits of a digital microscope
Some might wonder why a person would opt for a digital microscope over a standard optical microscope. With modern technological advances, we are now able to rely less on the view we see through an optical lens and can view a cleaner, crisp image of higher quality than we could otherwise view without digital optic advances.
The fact that software can also serve the viewer, allowing for more intuitive viewing of specimens or components. Software ensures that proper measurements are made and can log reports on whatever is observed. Because software has become better at recognizing 3D images, we are even able to identify 3D samples with higher accuracy.
Because digital microscopes are connected to phones and laptops, we can quickly share data with friends or colleagues, opening avenues for knowledge to flourish. Viewing on a screen instead of squinting through an optical tube while craning one’s neck improves ergonomics, allowing a person to work in comfort.
Overall, digital microscopes have become a valuable contribution for life sciences and digital work, opening the world of the minute to greater discoveries.