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published by the Imaging Technology Group
supported by 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 Flash.
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.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Technology
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electromagnetic Radiation
= Electromagnetic Spectrum
General Physics
- Equipment
= Electronic Equipment
Optics
- Color
- Geometrical Optics
= Optical Instruments
= Refraction - Flat Surfaces
Other Sciences
- Engineering
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Upper Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Tutorial
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
= Photograph
= Voice Recording
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
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Intended Users:
Educator
Professional/Practitioner
Learner
Formats:
application/flash
text/html
video/shockwave
Access Rights:
Free access
Restriction:
© 2007 Imaging Technology Group
Keywords:
fluorescent microscope, instrumentation, light microscope, microscope anatomy, microscope tutorial, microscopy, microscopy tutorial
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created February 11, 2013 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
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.
4F. Motion
  • 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

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
(Imaging Technology Group, Urbana, 2007), WWW Document, (http://virtual.itg.uiuc.edu/training/LM_tutorial/).
AJP/PRST-PER
Virtual Microscope: Light Microscopy Basics (Imaging Technology Group, Urbana, 2007), <http://virtual.itg.uiuc.edu/training/LM_tutorial/>.
APA Format
Virtual Microscope: Light Microscopy Basics. (2007). Retrieved April 24, 2014, from Imaging Technology Group: http://virtual.itg.uiuc.edu/training/LM_tutorial/
Chicago Format
NASA, and National Science Foundation. Virtual Microscope: Light Microscopy Basics. Urbana: Imaging Technology Group, 2007. http://virtual.itg.uiuc.edu/training/LM_tutorial/ (accessed 24 April 2014).
MLA Format
Virtual Microscope: Light Microscopy Basics. Urbana: Imaging Technology Group, 2007. NASA, and National Science Foundation. 24 Apr. 2014 <http://virtual.itg.uiuc.edu/training/LM_tutorial/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Virtual Microscope: Light Microscopy Basics}, Publisher = {Imaging Technology Group}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {24 April 2014}, Year = {2007} }
Refer Export Format

%T Virtual Microscope: Light Microscopy Basics
%D 2007
%I Imaging Technology Group
%C Urbana
%U http://virtual.itg.uiuc.edu/training/LM_tutorial/
%O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D 2007
%T Virtual Microscope: Light Microscopy Basics
%I Imaging Technology Group
%V 2014
%N 24 April 2014
%9 application/flash
%U http://virtual.itg.uiuc.edu/training/LM_tutorial/


Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

Virtual Microscope: Light Microscopy Basics:

Is Part Of Virtual Microscope

Link to the main website of Virtual Microscope, which includes instructions for downloading the software for sharing datasets produced by the group's scanning and probing microscopes.

relation by Caroline Hall
Accompanies Virtual Microscope: Scanning Electron Microscopy Basics

A link to an animated tutorial on the structure and function of a Scanning Electron Microscope. Appropriate for high school and undergraduate education.

relation by Caroline Hall
Accompanies Virtual Microscope: Scanning Probe Microscopy Basics

An animated tutorial that describes how scanning probe microscopes work to "read" the surface of nanoscale samples and provide image data.

relation by Caroline Hall

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