Microscopes are among the most useful inventions that have visualized tiny objects for centuries. Scientists usually utilize two types of microscopes: compound light microscope and dissecting (stereo) microscope. We are here to discuss the uses of a dissecting microscope, but first, let’s glance at its history and structure.
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Dissecting Microscope – Brief History
Scientists were struggling to invent the dissecting microscope. Cherudin d’Orleans designed the first stereo microscope with two separate objective lenses and eyepieces. After attempts by Charles Wheatstone and John Leornld Riddel, the American Instrument Designer, Horatio S. Greenough introduced it in the 1890s. He came forward with this unique dissecting microscope design considered the forefather of the current stereoscope.
Dissecting Microscope – General Introduction
This microscope is famously called a stereomicroscope, stereoscope, or digital stereo microscope (creating a 3-D image). It produces an enlarged image by processing through a reflecting mechanism. Unlike a compound light microscope working mechanism, a dissecting microscope has an illumination system where the light reflects, letting the viewer examine its specimen.
However, there are a few stereoscopes with the ability to transmit light. It happens due to a little bulb or a tiny transparent stage under the object. Biologists and scientists utilize these microscopes, especially in dark field microscopy, equipped with unique illuminators.
Dissecting Microscope – Principal
An important consideration before operating a dissecting microscope is choosing an appropriate specimen. The object to be observed should be solid, thick, and opaque as stereo microscopy follows the reflection mechanism.
The typical working of a dissecting microscope has two principal light pathways running through the objective and eyepiece. Each one has a different angle of view as the directions are opposite. The top light is utilized in dissecting the specimen, whereas the bottom light helps in image viewing.
What are the Important Parts of a Dissecting Microscope?
A stereoscope or dissecting microscope consists of many parts, all essential in their work. This microscope is constructed such that there are two eyepieces to enable light. It is why a dissecting microscope is also called a binocular stereoscope. Once the specimen is set to reflect light, a final and enlarged 3-D image is displayed on the attached monitor.
Main Light Source: LED illuminators are the central light source in most dissecting microscopes.
Stereo Head: At the top of a microscope lies this stereo head, consisting of two eyepieces.
Eyepieces: Two eyepieces are fixed with different magnifications, which is why the microscope is named a binocular microscope.
Objective Lens: Another lens is the objective lens, having variable magnification powers.
Diopter: It helps adjust the differences between a viewer’s eyes.
Focusing Knob: It allows movement of an upper portion of a microscope to create a focus.
Stage: It is the area where an object to be observed is placed.
Stage Clips: These clips are used to hold the prepared slide firmly.
Digital Camera: Almost all dissecting microscopes have a digital camera attached to capture and record a clear specimen image. It provides a three-dimensional image.
Why do Most Scientists Use a Dissecting Microscope?
Just like any other light or compound microscope, a dissecting microscope is significantly used in numerous fields for various reasons, such as medicine, inspecting jewelry, observing rocks, manufacturing, etc.
Let us tell you about the uses of dissecting microscopes in different fields.
Use in Gemology
Most gem experts utilize a dissecting microscope to examine the type and nature of gemstones. These microscopes are widely applicable to evaluate any gemstone due to wider space and a good viewing angle between the stage and lenses.
Use in Forensic Science
Dissecting microscopes are widely used in forensics to observe and evaluate specimens. The reason is the microscope’s long working distance and wide field of view. Together with other microscope parts, these characteristics let the viewer perform a sample examination. The object observed under a stereo microscope is thick and opaque. So, light can quickly reflect and present an upright and enlarged 3-D image. You will find the use of these microscopes in studying surface markings, hair samples, fingerprints, bullet particles, and much more.
Use at the Educational Level
Biology students find it easy to use dissecting microscopes at school and laboratory levels. Most educational institutes have kept these instruments to observe insects and other living samples. The 3-dimensional image shown on the digital camera is a plus point for students as they can check the sample’s intricacies.
Use at Surgical Level
Doctors and forensic scientists have used dissecting microscopes at the surgical level, especially in skin pathology. They use dissecting microscopes to examine and detect epithelium carcinomas and other growing tumors. The three-dimensional image displayed in the camera is an added advantage to visualizing quick pathological changes in a living cell/tissue.
Other Advantages of Dissecting Microscope
Besides the above-mentioned uses in different fields, there are multiple other advantages of a dissecting microscope, such as:
- The two light pathways designed in the microscope help display magnification differences for better visualization.
- All stereoscopes/dissecting microscopes are easily accessible and highly portable.
- The addition of a digital camera not only enhances the microscope’s beauty but also enlarges images in a 3-D manner.
- You can observe the details of the complete specimen conveniently.
Dissecting microscopes, popularly known as stereoscopes, have been used for decades. The simple phenomenon of utilizing the reflected light and getting an enlarged image made its pathways and entered different fields. As we have discussed earlier, scientists, biologists, doctors, and even teachers use these microscopes nowadays. However, these are limited to having low magnifications and are pretty expensive.