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The History, Development and Use of the Light and Electron Microscope.

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The History, Development and Use of the Light and Electron Microscope

Fatimah Jilani

Over time, our knowledge regarding matters in biology has developed quite rapidly with the use of microscopy. The use of microscopy has allowed us to look further into the physical side of biology especially in terms of cell ultra structures. Without the use of microscopes, we would never have even discovered cells let alone being able to know the characteristics and effects of minute detail, which is visible only through the Light and Electron Microscope.

During the historic period known to be the Renaissance, there took place the inventions of gunpowder and the mariner's compass which then lead to the discovery of America. However, during that period came the equally significant invention recognized as the microscope. The microscope being an optical instrument that uses a lens or a combination of lens to produce a magnified visual image of small minute objects. The invention of the microscope gave light to details of worlds within worlds. Looking at the advances of the technology behind the microscope you begin to wonder about the beginning of microscopes and what triggered off this development.

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Dehydration: - Any traces of water are removed from the material that is now fixed.Clearing: - Dehydrating alcohol is removed from the material to make it transparent.Embedding: - The material is then supported so that it is firm enough for sectioning.Sectioning: - Slices of material are prepared thin enough to allow light to pass through.Staining: - The material has to be stained to improve contrast between different structures, as most biological material is transparent.Mounting: - Finally, the material has to be embedded and protected for viewing over long periods.

Using this method, light microscopes can reveal the structures of living cells and tissues, as well as of non-living samples such as rocks and semiconductors.

There was one common fault found and that was to do with the magnification of the microscope however much it was easy to use. The light microscope was unable to distinguish fine detail when the magnification increased. And this term magnification meaning the number of times larger that the image seen is than the specimen being viewed. The maximum magnification obtainable from a light microscope is x1500.

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We are now able enough to have a fair understanding of how cells work in biology and all due to the revelation of the sophisticated technology behind the microscope.


  • Jones, G., Jones, M. (1997). Advanced Biology. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. 51-52.
  • www.bbc.co.uk/asguru/biology
  • www.jiskha.com/science/biology
  • www.cas.muohio.edu

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