Phase contrast Microscope

Phase contrast microscope has opened up a new world of the living to the science community.  It has enabled us to dwell in the world of living microorganisms. Before the development of phase contrast microscope scientist could not view living world of microorganisms as the technique of microscopy was limited to bright field illumination. Today phase contrast observations have become a must-have feature for the modern microscope.

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History of Phase Contrast Microscope

Phase contrast microscope was developed by a well-known Dutch physicist “Frits Zernike” in the year of 1938. At first, the scientific community could not acknowledge the invention of the Dutch scientist. But later when the science community came to realize the potential and importance of the discovery made by Frits Zernike he was awarded the Nobel Prize in the year 1953. The industrial production of phase contrast microscope was started by a German company Zeiss.

Importance of the discovery

Some of the objects or subjects to be viewed are transparent and do not absorb light. In such a case, it becomes hard to observe them in details through a microscope. Such objects are called phase objects. Before the invention of phase contrast microscope studying phase subjects was impossible. The systems introduced in the phase contrast microscope helped to improve the quality and definition of phase objects and could be observed with details. There are mainly two types of phase contrast which are positive phase contrast and negative phase contrast. The findings have brought revolution in the study of microbiology, cellular biology, and medical research. The microscope has helped gain a new breakthrough in the medical industry.

It has helped to observe various microorganisms such as bacteria, molds, protozoa and even sperms in detail. They are also useful in observing thin slices of tissue, subcellular particles lithographic patterns etc.

Positive phase contrast

These positive phase contrasts provide a grey background which helps provides the viewer with medium or dark grey images. There is also a presence of a halo or a shiny outline around the image.

Negative phase contrast

In this type of phase contrast the background is dark and the image is lighter. Unlike positive phase contrast, negative phase contrast have darker halo or outline around the image.

Advantages of phase contrast microscope

With the help of phase contrast microscope we are able to observe living cells in their natural state. It has helped us open up vast knowledge about the working of our cells and the way they function. The microscope also provides us with high resolution and high contrast. Phase contrast microscope is also used in micrography.

Disadvantages of phase contrast microscope

Along with advantages there are certain disadvantages of phase contrast microscope. These types of microscopes are not ideal for the observation of the thick specimen. Halo effect can affect in gaining the details around the perimeter of the specimen.

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