The Different Types of Microscopes

types of microscopes

The invention of the microscope has brought about great inventions that have transformed the human race. This device is effective and very important in science because it provides opportunity for scientist to study natural elements that are not visible to the naked eye.

There are different types of microscopes depending on the purpose for which it is intended. Microscopes can also be classified based on their image making physical principles, area of application and versatility. However, microscopes can be comfortable divided into two categories, light microscope and electron microscope. Below is a list of the major microscope types and their uses.

Light or Compound Microscopes

These types of microscopes are based on a simple principle of light and lens. A light source illuminates the object while the lens magnifies it so that it can be visible to the human eye for the purpose of studying or evaluating. Under this category are the simple microscope, compound microscope and the stereo microscope.

Simple Microscope

This is one of the oldest microscopes that uses a single lens for magnifying any samples. However, this microscope has been regarded as primitive because of its less relevance in serious scientific work.

Compound Microscopes

This type of microscope operates on the same principle as the as the simple microscope. But the difference is that it makes use of two different optical parts for the magnifying of objects. The compound microscopes are the most commonly used in many laboratories because they are efficient, inexpensive, and can magnify objects as much as 2000 times the original size. They are used mainly for the study of cells, chromosomes and the DNA.

Dissection or Stereo Microscope

This is another member of the optical microscopes that makes use of light and lens. This microscope is different from other types of microscopes because it allows you to view objects in 3D. It contains lens in different angles that provides a three dimensional viewing of objects for complete diagnosis.

However, the stereo microscope doesn’t have very strong magnifying power like the compound microscope, but can be very useful in studying of dissection parts of living organisms. It is used mainly in the field of medical science including forensics, fine repair, sorting, and microsurgery.

Other types of optical microscopes that are not very common but still well used includes the UV microscope that makes use of UV light to observe objects, the inverted microscope that is used for viewing thick or large objects upside down, and the metallurgic microscope used by engineers and scientists for viewing the structure of metals, ceramic and plastic. There are also digital microscopes that make use of optical lens and CCD/CMOS sensors to magnify objects to about 1000 times. Digital microscopes are also good because they have a 2 million pixel camera that provides high quality recording of the objects in view, and is connected to a TV monitor for high resolution viewing or observation.

Electron Microscopes

These are the most advanced types of microscopes used in modern science. The electron microscopes are powered by a beam of electron that strikes any objects that comes to its path to magnify it. Electron microscopes are used for studying cells and small particles of matter, as wells as large objects. Types of electron microscopes include transmission, scanning and reflection electron microscopes.

Transmission Microscope

Transmission microscopes are used for studying cells and tiny slices of microorganisms like viruses, after they have been stained with palladium and gold and placed upon a wire grid.

Scanning Electron Microscope

Scanning electron microscopes have lower magnifying power but can provide 3 dimensional viewing of objects. The image of the object is captured in black and white after being stained with gold and palladium.

Reflection Electron Microscope

Reflection electron microscopes also uses electron beams but is different from transmission and scanning electron microscopes being that it is build to detect electrons that have been scattered elastically.

All types of microscopes are used based on their purpose and the results that the scientist or the observer is trying to achieve. There are other microscopes designed for specific use in different types of field or based on their source like the X-ray microscope that uses X-ray beams to create images of an object. And the scanning acoustic microscope that makes use of sound waves to detect images. This type of microscope is used material science and biological science for detecting cracks in material and to uncover elasticity and stress in biological structures respectively.


  1. Thank you for answering my question.

  2. I found this interesting but i know that there are more types

  3. operating, ultramicroscope, light microscope, electron microscope(transmission-type microscope)…. These r d 4 majour types.

  4. Abbas Haruna Idris July 11, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    I was glad when i saw varieties of microscope.However,i didn’t see the polarised microscope

  5. Peter kwaghhom Alutswen March 15, 2016 at 7:50 am

    All types of microscopes are used based on deal purpose and d result that d scientist or d observer is trying to achieve.

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