the Imaging Technology Group
the NASA and
the National Science Foundation
This animated tutorial illustrates the basics of light microscopy. It opens with a brief introduction to light refraction and interference. Next, the tutorial explores light microscope anatomy and contrast methods -- including stain, darkfield, and polarized contrast. Finally, it discusses the field of fluorescent light microscopy.
This resource is part of the Virtual Microscope project, which provides cost-free simulated scientific instrumentation for students and researchers worldwide as part of NASA's Virtual Laboratory initiative. See Related Materials for links to additional animated tutorials on Atomic Force Microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy.
Please note that this resource requires
Editor's Note:This is a highly detailed tutorial, most appropriate for AP physics or second-year physics courses. Instructors of Physics First or conceptual physics may wish to limit the tutorial to Sections 1 and 2, which introduce the physics of light and the basic anatomy of the light microscope.
Metadata instance created
February 11, 2013
by Caroline Hall
February 11, 2013
by Caroline Hall
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
1. The Nature of Science
1C. The Scientific Enterprise
6-8: 1C/M6. Computers have become invaluable in science, mathematics, and technology because they speed up and extend people's ability to collect, store, compile, and analyze data; prepare research reports; and share data and ideas with investigators all over the world.
3. The Nature of Technology
3A. Technology and Science
6-8: 3A/M2. Technology is essential to science for such purposes as access to outer space and other remote locations, sample collection and treatment, measurement, data collection and storage, computation, and communication of information.
4. The Physical Setting
4D. The Structure of Matter
6-8: 4D/M9. Materials vary in how they respond to electric currents, magnetic forces, and visible light or other electromagnetic waves.
6-8: 4F/M2. Something can be "seen" when light waves emitted or reflected by it enter the eye—just as something can be "heard" when sound waves from it enter the ear.
6-8: 4F/M5. Human eyes respond to only a narrow range of wavelengths of electromagnetic waves-visible light. Differences of wavelength within that range are perceived as differences of color.
6-8: 4F/M6. Light acts like a wave in many ways. And waves can explain how light behaves.
6-8: 4F/M7. Wave behavior can be described in terms of how fast the disturbance spreads, and in terms of the distance between successive peaks of the disturbance (the wavelength).
8. The Designed World
8B. Materials and Manufacturing
9-12: 8B/H4. Increased knowledge of the properties of particular molecular structures helps in the design and synthesis of new materials for special purposes.
9-12: 8B/H6. Groups of atoms and molecules can form structures that can be measured in billionths of a meter. The properties of structures at this scale (known as the nanoscale) and materials composed of such structures, can be very different than the properties at the macroscopic scale because of the increase in the ratio of surface area to volume and changes in the relative strengths of different forces at different scales. Increased knowledge of the properties of materials at the nanoscale provides a basis for the development of new materials and new uses of existing materials.
11. Common Themes
6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
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