Phase Contrast Microscopes

Phase contrast microscopes are a type of compound light microscope used for a wide variety if microscopy applications such as molecular and cellular biology research; clinical and medical diagnosis of health conditions; microbiological research such as virology, bacteriology, and parasitology; dog breeding, marine biology for plant and animal cells, dust mite control, paleontology, wastewater management and many more applications.

The phase contrast effect is simply achieved by superimposing a circular phase annulus located in the substage condenser with a corresponding circular phase ring located in the back focal plane of the objective lens and specimens subjected to phase contrast illumination often appear to be surrounded by halos. They appear against a grayish background if used with plain white light, and appear against a green background if used with a green filter in the light path.

Phase contrast microscopes are available as simple phase contrast microscopes which include 10x and 40x phase objectives with a pre-centered phase slider or as fully equipped phase contrast microscope which includes a Zernike Condenser and a full complement of phase objectives; 10x, 20x, 40x and 100x Oil Immersion Objective and a centering phase telescope.

Phase Contrast can be performed in two different ways, on upright microscopes and inverted microscopes. Upright microscopes are the most common type of microscope, designed with the objective lenses positioned above the sample, looking downward and usually have shorter working distances while inverted microscopes are the most durable and easy to use for cell microscopy and tissue culture work including the diagnosis of tumor cells. Specialized long-working distance phase contrast optical systems have been developed for inverted microscope employed for tissue culture investigations and sperm cell motility for invitro-fertilization.

Industrial and chemical applications for phase contrast include mineralogy, crystallography, and polymer morphology investigations and the study of glass fragments. Other commercial products scrutinized by phase contrast optical techniques include clays, fats, oils, soaps, paints, pigments, foods, drugs and textiles. Also, commonly used for analysis of mineral fibers, fibers, environmental air pollution monitoring such as mold spore identification and asbestos.

Using the phase-contrast technique while viewing and studying live blood cells is one of the most common in the field of live blood cell analysis.

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