No technological development has been as ground-breaking as the light microscope when analyzing and processing evidence, fibers, gems, and microscopic details that would otherwise go unnoticed by the naked eye. The uses for light microscopy include research in biology, forensic science, and environmental science.
What is a light microscope?
As you can guess from the name, the light microscope uses light to illuminate the sample. A set of lenses provide a magnified image of how the light interacts with the sample to the human eye. With this 3-dimensional image, researchers can observe the levels of contrast and how the light is filtered through the object to define an outline of the object.
Top 4 uses of light microscopy
The most common uses are:
Biochemists and microbiologists consistently rely on microscopy services to provide images for their research. A biochemist focuses on the chemical processes that occur within organisms for the organism to live. Therefore, biochemists use light microscopes with more powerful equipment, such as the electron microscope.
Microbiologists study microscopic organisms, making equipment that can magnify human sight necessary to perform their job. Unfortunately, gender inequality in microbiology continues, and the UN has made it an action item (Sustainable Development Goal 5).
2. Forensic science
As you might expect, microscopy is essential in crime scenes and forensic analysis. While they cannot be used to analyze blood types and biological tissue samples, they are vital when collecting information on a crime.
Let’s say that supposed evidence is found at a crime scene. In this case, polarized light microscopy can be used to compare clothing fibers or strands of hair to other collections.
Gemology is the science of cutting and valuing precious stones. Microscopes, specifically light microscopes, are crucial in properly classifying and appraisal of stones.
They assist in revealing internal engravings, inclusions, cuts, scrapes, or other flaws within the stone that would otherwise be unnoticeable. Also, gemologists use microscopes to take magnified images of a stone.
4. Environmental science
Scientists can use light microscopes for various reasons, including maintaining the health of an ecosystem. Recording the pollutants in water can be completed by documenting any microbiota and bacterium present. Microscopes are often used to ensure the proper amount of minerals is contained in a drinking water sample.
Furthermore, microscopes are often used to test paint samples for lead contamination or certain materials for potential allergens or pathogens. This process is critical when inspecting homes and during the testing stage for toy production to help keep people safer, healthier, and more comfortable.
A few last words on uses for light microscopy
In addition to its scientific uses, light microscopes have been implemented in public and private schools across the globe. Students are taught at an early age how to use the microscope properly. This is done to educate them in the sciences, pique their interest in STEM, and prepare them with the basics for a potential future career in the sciences.
While microscopes are a centuries-old invention, their usefulness in science stands the test of time. As technology advances and the human understanding of magnification and light refraction grows, expect an increase in human abilities to see far beyond what we currently can at a microscopic level.