Microscope Facts



  • Microscopes are devices for looking at things that are normally too small for the human eye to see.
  • Optical microscopes use lenses to magnify images by up to 2000 times.
  • In an optical microscope an objective lens bends light rays apart to enlarge what you see; an eyepiece lens makes the big image visible.
  • Electron microscopes magnify by firing streams of electrons at the object. The electrons bounce off the object onto a fluorescent screen which makes them visible.
  • An electron microscope can focus on something as small as one nanometer (one-billionth of a meter) and magnify it five million times.
  • Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEMs) scan the surface of an object to magnify it by up to 100,000 times.
  • In the 1660s, Robert Hooke much improved the compound microscope, a powerful scientific instrument which worked by using several lenses.
  • Transmission Electron Microscopes shine electrons through thin slices of an object to magnify it millions of times.
  • Scanning Tunnelling Microscopes are so powerful that they can reveal individual atoms.
  • The idea of electron microscopes came from French physicist Louis de Broglie in 1924.
  • Scanning Acoustic Microscopes use sound waves to see inside tiny opaque objects.
  • From the 1670s, Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek used his single lens microscope to study many different subjects: fibers of fabrics, leaves, small creatures, and human blood, skin and hair.