We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Different Types of Microscopes?

By S. Mithra
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Microscopes are used both in classrooms and in making important evaluations in medical laboratories and other microtechnologies. The different types are designed for these different uses, and therefore will vary based on their resolution, magnification, depth of field, field of view, illumination method, degree of automation, and type of image they produce. There are essentially three categories of microscope: electron, confocal, and compound.

Electron microscopes are extremely sophisticated magnification devices. These are used in archaeology, medicine, and geology to look at surfaces and layers of objecs such as organs and rocks. Instead of using light, these devices point a stream of electrons at the specimen and attached computers analyze how the electrons are scattered by the material. The specimen must be suspended within a vacuum chamber.

With transmission electron microscopes, a scientist gets a view of 2-D slices of the object at different depths. Of course, with such powerful instruments, both the degree of magnification and the resolution, or sharpness of the image, are very high. Scanning electron microscopes are slightly different in that they scan a gold-plated specimen to give a 3-D view of the surface of an object. This view is in black and white, yet gives an amazing picture of, for example, the minute hills and valleys of a dinosaur bone.

A confocal microscope is a step down from the previous types. It uses a laser beam to illuminate a specimen, the image of which is then digitally enhanced for viewing on a computer monitor. The specimen is often dyed a bright color so the laser gives a more contrasting image. It is mounted on a glass slide just like in high school biology. These devices are controlled automatically, and motorized mirrors help with auto-focus.

The simplest types are found in classrooms across the world: compound microscopes. These are entirely operated by hand and use the ordinary ambient light from the sun or a light bulb to illuminate the specimen. Whatever a user wants to look at is mounted between two glass slides and clipped beneath the main lens, and he uses a dial to focus the image. These tools use a simple series of magnifying lenses and mirrors to bring the image up to an eyepiece, much like a telescope.

Compound microscopes are mostly used in biology. They give a 2-D slice of an object, yet can attain a high enough magnification to see parts of eukaryotic cells, a hair strand, or pond scum. Unfortunately, they do not have excellent resolution, so the image may be blurry. Stereoscopic microscopes, as the name implies, provide a 3-D picture of bisected items, like muscle tissue or an organ. In this case, magnification is poor, so the viewer can't make out separate cells, but resolution is much improved.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon41923 — On Aug 18, 2009

It was probably a mini version of one of the microscopes above. I said probabaly, not definite. Or it could be some version of microscope that only a small number of them were made. I seriously don't know.

By concordski — On Jun 16, 2008

When i was younger, i had another type of microscope: a pocket microscope. you could carry it around with you in a pocket and closely investigate things in the field.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.