Microscopy & Microtechniques

The Bigger Picture - A Macro View of Fluorescence

Jul 05 2006

Author: Dr. Winfried Busch, Olympus Life & Materials Science Europa GmbH on behalf of Olympus Europa SE & CO.KG

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To see anything through a microscope requires a certain amount of contrast. For bright field this is achieved through the use of a number of different histological stains, which bind to specific proteins to differentiate cell types, organelles and inclusions for example. Most of these stains though require samples to be fixed and processed and therefore risk the introduction of possible misleading artefacts. Techniques such as fluorescence have revolutionised microscopy to enable the clear identification of many parameters by naturally producing contrast in the properties of light and refractive indices of the different components of a sample. Fluorescence techniques place numerous benefits in the hands of researchers wishing to exploit the upper limits of sensitivity and resolution in microscopy. Beyond the scientific benefits, simply studying fluorescence images can sometimes offer a new insight into a reality which is usually hidden from view from the world.

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