Advances in Optical Microscopy Increase Vulnerability of Environmental Noise
Advancements in optical microscopy push the boundaries of what can be seen, while increasing the vulnerability to environmental noise.
Optical microscopy utilizes a lens or lenses to observe objects at greater magnification than the human eye can perceive. The most rudimentary microscopes consisting of just one lens — essentially a magnifying glass — appeared over five hundred years ago. With the addition of more lenses, compound microscopes were created and the complexity of optical microscopes increased from there.
Today’s light microscopes range in capability from simple classroom microscopes to incredibly complex research devices that utilize an array of features to improve their performance. Common features include digital cameras, automated stages, specialized sample holders, and micromanipulators. Optical microscopes now come in several different variations, depending on the application. These include fluorescence, stereo, laser scanning, and confocal microscopes, among others. Optical microscopes began as rudimentary tools for the primitive scientist, but have developed into powerful, versatile research instruments.
Typical applications include:
The resolution of optical microscopes has traditionally been limited by the diffraction limit. The diffraction limit is related to the wavelength of light and represents the point beyond which an optical microscope cannot effectively resolve features. New developments, including scanning near-field optical microscopy and the use of fluorescence, have allowed optical microscopes to push beyond this limit.
As optical microscopes push to higher and higher resolutions, their need for environmental isolation has increased. Many confocal and fluorescence microscopes are sold with standard vibration isolation systems. Typically, air-based systems are sufficient, but active vibration control may be required when using these instruments in a noisy environment.
Optical microscopes are often employed in bioengineering applications. These applications often require the manipulation of cells using micropipettes, injectors, and micromanipulators. Because they are long and thin, these tools are particularly vulnerable to noise and vibration issues. They also require a fine degree of control, which is impossible to achieve without proper vibration control. Otherwise neglecting to compensate for environmental noise can lead to costly mistakes.
Biological applications are often sensitive to temperature variation, as this can cause cells to behave differently or even to die. Care should be taken when selecting a lab space to mitigate fluctuations in temperature throughout the day. It should also be noted that some biological applications are sensitive to light, in which case a light shield should be employed or integrated into a soundproof hood.
For over 25 years, Herzan has partnered with optical microscope users to enable them to achieve more from their research by mitigating disruptive environmental effects that cause distortions to their observations, measurements, and images. Herzan’s desktop vibration control tables (active and passive) are a proven solution to maximize the accuracy of your data.
To request more information or a quotation for this or other Herzan products, contact IL Photonics.