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How is an electron microscope different than a light microscope?

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An electron microscope has a higher resolution than a light microscope, which results in much finer detail of the specimen being viewed. Although an electron microscope can magnify a specimen up to 2 million times, a light microscope is advantageous when viewing live cells.

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Electron microscopy uses an electron beam rather than light to achieve magnification. To do this, electrons pass through a thin piece of the specimen. The wavelengths of an electron beam are much smaller than light, allowing for better resolution. Because of its ability to reach such acute levels of resolution, it is possible to see the shape of a specimen. Although the finite detail is beneficial in many circumstances, the specimen viewed under an electron microscope must be fixed during preparation so that the structure is not disturbed, which means the specimen will not be alive and can only observe its visual characteristics.

Light microscopy functions on the basis of diffraction. To achieve magnification, light either passes through or reflects off of a specimen before it is transmitted through the optical lenses. In certain conditions, live cells and their biological functions, such as food intake and cell division, can be viewed. Viewers can also track proteins and observe cell movement.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the depth of field in microscopy?

    A:

    In microscopy, the depth of field refers to the range of distance that runs parallel to the optical axis where the specimen can move and still be viewed without negatively affecting the clarity of the object under observation. The depth of field determines the vertical extent of the plane of focus, which is typically measured in microns.

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  • Q:

    How does a light microscope produce an image?

    A:

    A light microscope can use multiple types of light to produce multiple types of images, but all of them function on the basis of light focused from below the sample and into either a condenser, which focuses the light, or the lens to be viewed. The objective lens are what causes the actual magnification of the specimen on the slide that is made visible by the light. That is then passed through to the eyepiece at the top of the microscope.

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  • Q:

    What is the difference between a temporary slide and a permanent slide when using a microscope?

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    When using a microscope, slides that are permanent can be examined and stored for a long time, while temporary slides are used for short-term observations. Permanent slides must be properly made for successful long-term storage.

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  • Q:

    What is a binocular microscope used for?

    A:

    A binocular microscope is any microscope that possesses two eyepieces for viewing a subject that needs to be studied at a high degree of magnification. Binocular microscopes are commonly used in educational and laboratory settings.

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