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Lighting Up Microscopes: Advances and Emerging Sources

Photonics Spectra
Jun 2016
Spanning more wavelengths with greater intensity in ever smaller and cheaper packages, illumination systems are a make-or-break component in any modern microscope.

MARIE FREEBODY, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, marie.freebody@photonics.com

Microscope developers are a resourceful bunch, opting to use the light source available to them at the time to peer at or below the surface of various materials. Even dating back to the 17th century, Galileo used sunlight to produce the very first optical microscope. The next illumination sources to become available were lamps such as tungsten (incandescent), xenon, mercury and metal halide vapor. While such lamps can still be found in laboratories today, it was when an entirely new way of

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GLOSSARY
halogen
Any of the five elements astatine, chlorine, fluorine, bromine and iodine, grouped because their chemical properties are similar.
illumination
The general term for the application of light to a subject. It should not be used in place of the specific quantity illuminance.
infrared microscope
A type of microscope that uses radiation in the infrared region to illuminate objects that are opaque to visible radiation. The microscope consists of two illumination systems (transmitted and reflected), an infrared imaging system, an infrared-to-visible conversion system, and a viewing and imaging system.
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