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Learning objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the different types of microscopes.

Physics research underpins the advancement of developments in microscopy. As we gain knowledge of the wave nature of electromagnetic waves and methods to analyze and interpret signals, new microscopes that enable us to “see” more are being developed. It is the evolution and newer generation of microscopes that are described in this section.

The use of microscopes (microscopy) to observe small details is limited by the wave nature of light. Owing to the fact that light diffracts significantly around small objects, it becomes impossible to observe details significantly smaller than the wavelength of light. One rule of thumb has it that all details smaller than about λ size 12{λ} {} are difficult to observe. Radar, for example, can detect the size of an aircraft, but not its individual rivets, since the wavelength of most radar is several centimeters or greater. Similarly, visible light cannot detect individual atoms, since atoms are about 0.1 nm in size and visible wavelengths range from 380 to 760 nm. Ironically, special techniques used to obtain the best possible resolution with microscopes take advantage of the same wave characteristics of light that ultimately limit the detail.

Making connections: waves

All attempts to observe the size and shape of objects are limited by the wavelength of the probe. Sonar and medical ultrasound are limited by the wavelength of sound they employ. We shall see that this is also true in electron microscopy, since electrons have a wavelength. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle asserts that this limit is fundamental and inescapable, as we shall see in quantum mechanics.

The most obvious method of obtaining better detail is to utilize shorter wavelengths. Ultraviolet (UV) microscopes have been constructed with special lenses that transmit UV rays and utilize photographic or electronic techniques to record images. The shorter UV wavelengths allow somewhat greater detail to be observed, but drawbacks, such as the hazard of UV to living tissue and the need for special detection devices and lenses (which tend to be dispersive in the UV), severely limit the use of UV microscopes. Elsewhere, we will explore practical uses of very short wavelength EM waves, such as x rays, and other short-wavelength probes, such as electrons in electron microscopes, to detect small details.

Another difficulty in microscopy is the fact that many microscopic objects do not absorb much of the light passing through them. The lack of contrast makes image interpretation very difficult. Contrast is the difference in intensity between objects and the background on which they are observed. Stains (such as dyes, fluorophores, etc.) are commonly employed to enhance contrast, but these tend to be application specific. More general wave interference techniques can be used to produce contrast. [link] shows the passage of light through a sample. Since the indices of refraction differ, the number of wavelengths in the paths differs. Light emerging from the object is thus out of phase with light from the background and will interfere differently, producing enhanced contrast, especially if the light is coherent and monochromatic—as in laser light.

Questions & Answers

Determine the total force and the absolute pressure on the bottom of a swimming pool 28.0m by 8.5m whose uniform depth is 1 .8m.
Henny Reply
for the answer to complete, the units need specified why
muqaddas Reply
That's just how the AP grades. Otherwise, you could be talking about m/s when the answer requires m/s^2. They need to know what you are referring to.
Suppose a speck of dust in an electrostatic precipitator has 1.0000×1012 protons in it and has a net charge of –5.00 nC (a very large charge for a small speck). How many electrons does it have?
Alexia Reply
how would I work this problem
how can you have not an integer number of protons? If, on the other hand it supposed to be 1e12, then 1.6e-19C/proton • 1e12 protons=1.6e-7 C is the charge of the protons in the speck, so the difference between this and 5e-9C is made up by electrons
what is angular velocity
Obaapa Reply
Why does earth exert only a tiny downward pull?
Mya Reply
Why is light bright?
Abraham Reply
what is radioactive element
Attah Reply
an 8.0 capacitor is connected by to the terminals of 60Hz whoes rms voltage is 150v. a.find the capacity reactance and rms to the circuit
Aisha Reply
thanks so much. i undersooth well
Valdes Reply
what is physics
Nwafor Reply
is the study of matter in relation to energy
a submersible pump is dropped a borehole and hits the level of water at the bottom of the borehole 5 seconds later.determine the level of water in the borehole
Obrian Reply
what is power?
aron Reply
power P = Work done per second W/ t. It means the more power, the stronger machine
e.g. heart Uses 2 W per beat.
A spherica, concave shaving mirror has a radius of curvature of 32 cm .what is the magnification of a persons face. when it is 12cm to the left of the vertex of the mirror
Alona Reply
did you solve?
my name is Abu m.konnek I am a student of a electrical engineer and I want you to help me
the magnification k = f/(f-d) with focus f = R/2 =16 cm; d =12 cm k = 16/4 =4
what do we call velocity
A weather vane is some sort of directional arrow parallel to the ground that may rotate freely in a horizontal plane. A typical weather vane has a large cross-sectional area perpendicular to the direction the arrow is pointing, like a “One Way” street sign. The purpose of the weather vane is to indicate the direction of the wind. As wind blows pa
Kavita Reply
what about the wind vane
If a prism is fully imersed in water then the ray of light will normally dispersed or their is any difference?
Anurag Reply
the same behavior thru the prism out or in water bud abbot
If this will experimented with a hollow(vaccum) prism in water then what will be result ?
Practice Key Terms 6

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