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Proceedings Paper

Capabilities of the optical microscope
Author(s): Savile Bradbury
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Paper Abstract

This paper outlines briefly some of the more important developments of the last two decades which have improved the basic performance of the microscope with respect to lateral resolution and image contrast. Such changes are due to new optical technology, digital image recording and processing, and the introduction of multimode capabilities. The introduction of laser scanning techniques using the confocal principle, together with the extension of imaging capabilities outside the visible spectrum have further extended the information available from the optical microscope. It seems probable that the use of techniques such as near-field microscopy, by breaking away from diffraction-limited imaging, will increase the spatial resolution of the optical microscope so that it approximates to that of the electron microscope. Use of improved image-capture devices and video techniques will improve temporal resolution by increasing our understanding of events which occur very rapidly or very slowly. Applying all of these changes will give use a chance to study localized chemical events as they happen in living cells in real time. It is also likely that methods of obtaining information about fine structural changes occurring in three dimensions, now just becoming practicable, will be extended so that microscopy becomes truly four-dimensional.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 December 1991
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 1439, International Conference on Scientific Optical Imaging, (1 December 1991); doi: 10.1117/12.50452
Show Author Affiliations
Savile Bradbury, Oxford Univ. (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1439:
International Conference on Scientific Optical Imaging

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