While the visible eye may see the human body as a combination of skin, muscles, eyes, mouth, nose, arms, legs, and a few more organs, it is a lot more than that.
The human body is made of a number of tiny cells that are as small as 100 microns. You might wonder if we can see the cells with the naked eye, we cannot. Cells are microscopic and can only be seen under microscopes. With various kinds of microscopes present, light microscopes, compound microscopes, and electron microscopes are typically used in laboratories to identify cell and cell structures.
Types of Microscopes
The Light microscope is the most common type of microscope that uses lenses and a light source to illume the specimen and show the image. They are best for living cells, clinical tissue assessments, and performing dissections. On the other hand, Compound microscopes are usually used in labs and schools to identify bacteria, viruses, germs, tissues, and cells. They have their own light source from the base that goes past the specimen to show the image through the lens. They can easily express the cellular level objects up to a magnification of 1000x.
Unlike light and compound microscopes, Electron microscopes do not need a light source to create an image. Instead, an electron microscope sends electrons across the specimen to display a digital image. They possess the highest resolution and power and can see up to macromolecular levels. The only drawback of electron microscopes is their inability to observe living cells while preserving them as the electrons tend to destroy them.
So, What type of Microscope is needed to see Ribosomes and Mitochondria?
Though you can easily see the living cell under a light or compound microscope, you cannot observe all cell organelles. The nucleus is the most prominent part of the cell that you can easily see under a light microscope.
You can identify mitochondria under a light microscope. But the limitations of this microscope do not give a detailed look at it. However, Ribosomes can only be seen under an electron microscope.
So, we can say that an Electron Microscope is the right choice to observe the Mitochondria and Ribosomes in detail.
Why do we need an Electron Microscope to see Mitochondria and Ribosomes?
Mitochondria and ribosomes are complex structures. While the Mitochondria are relatively larger in size, ribosomes are impossible to identify with the compound microscope. They are around 20 nm in diameters, making them incredibly tiny to be seen with the naked eye or through a compound or light microscope.
Features of an Electron Microscope
Some of the features of the electron microscope that make it a suitable choice for observing cell organelles include:
- It uses accelerated electrons to study the object under observation.
- The Scanning Electron Microscope can achieve a resolution higher than 1 nanometer.
- They have >10,000x magnification.
Different types of electron microscopes have varying magnification, like
- SEM: magnifies 5 to ~ 500,000 times
- TEM: magnifies 50 to ~50 million times
- STEM: magnifies 5 to ~50 million times
The Bottom Line
While many different microbiology microscopes are used to identify different parts of the cell, an electron microscope offers the most detailed observation. You can use it to observe Mitochondria, Ribosomes, and other organelles in the cell. The magnification power and high resolution of the electron microscope make it the best choice for observing Mitochondria and Ribosomes.