When we talk about microscopes, compound or electron microscopes usually hit our minds. However, besides compound microscopes, stereo microscopes are also of great importance. They help students and researchers observe larger objects you cannot observe with compound microscopes.
However, students looking for microscopes for electronics often ask, “Are light microscopes and stereo microscopes the same?” and “Should I buy a light microscope or a stereo microscope”?
This article mentions all the differences between these two types of microscopes along with their brief description for easy understanding.
Table of Contents
What is a Light Microscope?
A light microscope refers to any microscope that uses light to illuminate a specimen and produce an image. Previously, light microscopes made use of a natural light source. However, now these microscopes use an artificial light source like an LED to produce the images on the ocular lens. Some light microscopes, like microbiology microscopes, help you study the characteristics of microorganisms, while others examine details on large objects.
Let’s tell you everything about light microscopes.
History of Light Microscope
Antony Van Lewnehoueek developed the first simple microscope in 1668 to observe germs and living organisms in the water. Simple microscopes using a magnifying instrument were used before light microscopes. But, light microscopes took the place soon after convex lenses were designed. This microscope comprised a double convex glass lens held between two silver plates. However, the microorganisms were not prominent and appeared as dots on the lens.
Principle of Light Microscope
Light microscopes create an image by bending the light through the lens and focusing it on the specimen. The lenses in the initial microscopes collectively performed these functions. However, in modern microscopes, the condenser lens condenses the light rays to brighten the specimen.
Light microscopes work on the principle of refraction, which depicts how the substance slows the speed of light. Thus, the lens with a short focal length magnifies objects more than lenses with a longer focal length. They use objective lenses and eyepieces to magnify the objects.
Parts of Light Microscope
A light microscope comprises twelve basic parts that help produce the image in the microscope. The parts of a light microscope include:
- Objective lens
- Lens tube
- Revolving Nosepiece
- Fine focus
- Coarse focus
- Light source
The Function of Light Microscope
Light microscopes have been used to observe objects in higher magnification since the sixteenth century. They help understand the intricate details of samples and analyze the structure of microorganisms. While they are not the best choice to study organelles in detail, like mitochondria or ribosomes, they help examine coins, gems, blood cells, bacteria, and germs.
Types of Light Microscopes
Light microscopes are categorized into various types depending on their image formation. The two main types of microscopes are compound microscopes and stereo microscopes. Compound microscopes further could be monocular, binocular, or trinocular. Moreover, modern types of light microscopes, include:
- Bright-field light microscope
- Phase contrast light microscope
- Dark-field light microscope
- Fluorescence light microscope
Applications of Light Microscopes
Students, researchers, and hobbyists widely use light microscopes to examine various samples. Students may fix electrical circuits or observe microbiological samples on prepared slides. Phase contrast light microscopes, fluorescence microscopes, and bright and dark-field microscopes also help examine different types of specimens.
What is a Stereo Microscope?
Stereo microscopes are optical microscopes that offer a three-dimensional view of an object. They are also known as dissecting microscopes or stereo-zoom microscopes. Stereo microscopes are used to study the details of larger objects. Their magnification ranges from 10x to 50x compared to the high magnification of compound microscopes.
History of Stereo Microscope
Cherubin d’Orleans built the first stereomicroscope in 1671 with two eyepieces and objective lenses. However, the produced image could only be erected using supplemental lenses.
Later, Francis Herbert Wenham developed the first true stereomicroscope in the mid 19 century. This microscope used a prism to split the light beam to illuminate the object.
Principle of Stereo Microscope
A stereo microscope uses two different paths of light from the eyepiece and objective lens. You can view the sample from different angles using the two pieces in the microscope. Some stereo digital microscopes also come with an LCD to view the observation on a larger screen. They are a better choice for teaching and conferences to share observations with others.
Parts of the Stereo Microscope
A stereo microscope comprises three main parts:
- Viewing head
- Focus block
The overall structure of the microscope comprises two objective lenses that provide separate optical paths to the incident light. Stereo microscopes also contain a diopter setting for people with near-sightedness or far-sightedness. The lighting controls and focus knobs help provide adequate lighting to the object and adjust the focus accordingly.
The Function of Stereo Microscope
A stereo microscope is used to study the details of old objects to understand history and evolution. It helps scientists read patterns and carvings on samples that give an insight into life in old times. They are also excellent microscopes for students to examine electrical circuits and find problems in the wiring that you might miss with the naked eye. It allows you to develop flawless circuits and solder the required areas.
Types of Stereo Microscopes
Stereo microscopes are of three types:
- Fixed stereo microscope
- Zoom stereo microscope
- Turret stereo microscope
Stereo zoom microscopes are the most popular type to study samples like electric circuits and coins in industries and research labs.
Applications of Stereo Microscope
Stereo microscopes have wide applications as they are used in low-magnification needs, producing 3D images of samples under observation. They do not provide a detailed examination of microbes like bacteria under a compound microscope. Alternatively, they help study the details of objects visible to the naked eye. It could include a variety of specimens, from insects and skin samples to gems and electric circuits.
Difference Between Light and Stereo Microscope
Light microscopes use a light source to produce images on the eyepiece. It is one of the two main types of microscopes: light microscope and electron microscope.
On the other hand, stereo microscopes are a type of light microscope used to examine details on objects visible to the human eye.
Light microscopes have existed since as early as 1021, with the invention of the first simple microscope in 1590. Antony Van Lewnehoueek initially developed a microscope to study unicellular organisms in pond water.
Alternatively, the first stereo microscope was developed by Cherubin d’Orleans in 1671. However, Francis Herbert Wenham developed the first true stereomicroscope in the mid 19 century modifying the issues in previous microscopes.
Structure and Working
Light microscopes comprise a light source that illuminates the specimen through light rays converged by the condenser. The objective lens creates a magnified image of the sample, which is further enlarged by the eyepieces.
At the same time, a stereo microscope has three main parts: the top body, the focus block, and the stand. The focus knobs help focus on the details of the specimen. A stereo microscope uses two different pathways to produce the image on the ocular lens. Some stereo microscopes have a fixed magnification and a zoom magnification.
Light microscopes offer a wide range of magnifications depending on the type of light microscope you use. Low-magnification microscopes may have 10x or more magnification, while compound microscopes offer up to 2500x magnification.
However, stereo microscopes have low magnification between 10x and 50x. Yet, it is enough for their application in labs and industries.
Light microscopes are categorized into various types, the two most common classifications are compound microscope and stereo microscope.
Stereo microscopes are basically of three types: fixed stereo microscope, stereo zoom microscope, and turret stereo microscope.
Light microscopes are used in research and school labs to carry out experiments and study details on objects. Their application lies in biology, chemistry, physics, electronics, microbiology, and other branches of science.
Stereo microscopes have vast usage in industries and physics laboratories to study electrical circuits. Students also sometimes use them to examine biological samples like leaves and insects.
The Bottom Line
Light microscopes are the most primitive forms of the microscope, as the simplest microscopes also use light to observe specimens. Advancements in microscope development produced different types of light microscopes, including compound microscopes and dissecting microscopes. Dissecting microscopes are also known as stereo microscopes. They are used in laboratories to study details on objects visible to the naked eye. However, other types of light microscopes, like the compound microscope, contribute to examining microorganisms. AmScope B120 is an example of a compound light microscope, whereas Leica A60 and Leica EZ4 are stereo microscopes.