Definition of Microscopy

Microscopy: The examination of minute objects by means of a microscope, an instrument which provides an enlarged image of an object not visible with the naked eye.

Aside from the usual microscopy, there are various special types of microscopy including, for example:

  • Electron microscopy -- Microscopy in which an electron beam replaces light to form the image.
  • Fluorescence microscopy -- Microscopy based on the fact that fluorescent materials emit visible light when they are irradiated with ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • Immune electron microscopy -- Electron microscopy of biological specimens to which a specific antibody has been bound.
  • Immunofluorescence microscopy -- Microscopy done using antibodies labeled with a fluorescing substance and a fluorescence microscope to detect the binding of the antibody through the production of a characteristic visible light under UV light.
  • Nomarski microscopy -- An unusual type of microscopy requiring a special optical system (Nomarski optics) to do "differential interference contrast microscopy."
  • Time-lapse microscopy -- Microscopy in which the same object is photographed at regular intervals over time to, for example, observe a cell go through division.

The word "microscopy" comes from Greek roots: mikros, small + skopeo, to view = to view small (objects).


Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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