What is a microscope?


The science and technology have always been hand and continued progress throughout history. For this, different types of devices have been created that have helped in the work, one of the most important is known by the name of microscope , a device that managed to allow man to observe microscopic life forms in order to understand nature and what is used over time in different scientific disciplines .

What is a microscope?

The microscope is a type of instrument that enables the observation of objects that are very small as to be seen with the human eye . It is a type of optical instrument that can increase the analysis capacity to astonishing levels.

  • Characteristics of a microscope
  • History
  • What is a microscope for?
  • Inventor
  • Types
  • Parties
  • How a microscope works
  • Importance

Characteristics of a microscope

Some of the most representative characteristics of the microscope are the following:

  • It is a type of tool that allows the observation of tiny objects .
  • It works through the refraction of images.
  • They are composed of one or more lenses that make up an entire optical system.
  • Some of them contain a base that gives them the ability to perform a series of very precise movements in order to measure objects.
  • The arrangement in which there are the lenses of the microscope has a sequence that enables the orientation of the image you see may be reversed in relation to the actual object being examined.
  • Two main parameters that are part of microscopes are the ability to increase and the resolution .


According to history , the first type of microscope that there was optic which based its operation on the property that had different materials which made a change in the direction of light rays. From that moment on, different types of special lenses began to be manufactured that made it possible to improve this convergence of light, thus generating an enlarged image of any type of object.

Before its invention, magnifying glasses first existed , devices that continue to be used even today. Roger Bacon , in the 13th century, was in charge of analyzing and studying magnifying glasses and carrying out a series of investigations that resulted in the creation of different tools to improve the magnification of objects. As such, the microscope originates in the year 1590 and in the year 1674 , Anton Van Leeuwenhoek is in charge of commercializing and perfecting the creation, in fact, he is considered as the person who discovered red blood cells and bacteria in the blood.

Galileo Galilei also had an important participation in the development and improvement of microscopes with his creation of a convex lens and another concave lens . The first person to use the term microscope was Giovanni Faber in 1625 . In the seventeenth century, research began to appear that showed documentation related to different observations made with microscopes, for example, Micrographia , written by Robert Hooke and published in 1665. With the passage of time, the microscopes were refined little by little until they reached the devices that are used today. Carl Zeiss is considered one of the most recognized microscope manufacturers of the 19th century because he was in charge of completely modernizing all the tools that were used and incorporating optical theories that had been developed by Ernst Abbe . In the twentieth century , new microscopic techniques emerged and with them also new microscopes, such as electron microscopes .

What is a microscope for?

The microscope is a mechanism or apparatus that serves to obtain a better visibility of objects that have a tiny size by making them appear in an enlarged way . With this instrument it is possible to magnify the images up to the level of the retina and with this it is possible to better capture the information. It is a type of optical tool of great importance and relevance mainly for the field of science .


The inventor of the microscope was Zacharias Janssen in the year 1590 .


At present, in addition to the optical microscope, there are other types of devices that have different characteristics and functions. Among the most important and well-known we find:

  • Compound microscope : This type of microscope uses two or more lenses to achieve magnified images.
  • Monocular : in this case, the microscope only has one eyepiece and for that reason the sample can only be observed using one of the eyes. It is a fairly simple microscope that is mainly used by students or those who enjoy microscopy.
  • Trinocular : it has two eyepieces that make it possible to observe the samples but also have an additional eyepiece in which a camera can be connected to capture different images of the observations that are made.
  • Digital : it has a camera that makes it possible to digitally capture all the images obtained from a sample so that they are later displayed on a screen.
  • Inverted microscope : it is responsible for inverting the position in which the light source and the objective to be observed are located so that in this way the illumination is carried out from above. It is widely used for the study and observation of living cells and tissues


As for the parts of the microscope, these can be classified depending on its operation and its mechanical system . According to the operation of the microscope’s optical system, the parts that make up the apparatus are the following:

  • Focus : is responsible for emitting light rays.
  • Condenser : it has the function of concentrating the rays of light on the sample to be observed.
  • Diaphragm : it is the place where the condenser is attached and is responsible for regulating the amount of light.
  • Objective : it is a fundamental part composed of a group of lenses that receive the light that comes from the sample, making it possible for the image to be magnified.
  • Eyepiece : you have the function of enlarging the image and thanks to it you can see the entire sample.

Regarding the mechanical system, the parts are classified depending on the proportion of the structural support necessary to maintain the aforementioned parts. It is classified into the following parts:

  • Base : it is responsible for keeping the microscope in a stable position.
  • Arm : it is a structure that connects the base with the microscope’s optical system.
  • Stage : consists of a horizontal piece where the samples to be observed are placed.
  • Micrometric and coarse screws : they work by regulating the position of the arm and the stage.
  • Revolver : in this part the objectives are located and have the ability to rotate.
  • Tube : has the function of connecting the objectives with the eyepiece.

How a microscope works

First, to use the microscope, the object that will be subjected to observation must be prepared and this is done by placing it on a glass sheet known as a slide , then, it must be covered with another thinner sheet known as a coverslip and in If necessary, certain dyes must be applied to identify what is needed.

The optical- type microscope works mainly depending on and taking into account the different properties that matter has in relation to light rays , it also depends on the appropriate combination of special lenses to be able to direct or converge the light rays and thus achieve get an image that is larger. The lens on the object has the function of producing a magnified image while the image that is produced is magnified by means of the eyepiece lenses, creating a larger virtual image of the object.

In the case of electron microscopes , they work by means of a series of electrons that serve to shape the images. The column of the microscope will serve to emit the electrons , the camera to isolate the object and the monitor to observe the final result.


The importance of the microscope in the field of science is extremely extensive. It was a starting point to be performed and managed to emerge a lot of progress to scientists worldwide in the field of science and changed the way the man saw the world. It is important because it opened the possibility of conducting studies on tiny organisms such as microbes and bacteria , which made it possible to analyze and diagnose hundreds of diseases.

At present, surgical microscopes, for example, are widely used to perform different types of surgeries in which the tissues are so delicate that doctors need to increase vision to avoid causing any type of damage, for example, blood vessels , nerves and veins . The use of microscopes has served for decades for the study of important diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and has even made it possible to study viruses and their molecular structures.

Not only in the field of medicine is the microscope important because this device is also used in the resolution of some legal conflicts, specifically in areas related to criminology where they need to perform a series of chemical reactions to interpret results.

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