What is a fluorescence microscope? What type of fluorescence microscopy equipment do I need? Searching for the right fluorescent microscope for your application is probably a challenging task. The prices of fluorescent microscopy equipment is often well over $20,000. However, if one looks hard enough, they will find several much lower priced models on the market. A budget priced fluorescence microscope may not have all the bells and whistles as a brand name unit, but they often can fill the biologist’s or researcher’s needs, and at a price most any biology university research laboratory can afford.
Let’s begin with reviewing the part and function of the components that comprise the modern biological fluorescence microscope. First, we need to distinguish between a fluorescence and an epi-fluorescence microscope. The addition of the prefix “epi” refers to the type of microscopy equipment that has illumination from the top, also known as incident lighting. This is different from the transmitted light. Years ago, the typical fluorescence microscope used transmitted light to transmit the excitation wavelengths through the specimen. The more modern microscopes have developed the epifluorescence light sources that take a light source, such as a 100 Watt Mercury arc bulb and direct the light through the objective. This becomes the incident light, and shines directly on the fluorescing specimen.
This light is first channeled through a dichroic filter cube that reduces the light by filtering it. This is called a bandpass excitation filter. The idea is to use a specific narrow band of light waves to excite the specimen into fluorescing. The light that goes back into the objective (picked up by the objective) is known as the fluorescing light. In order to get better imaging, this the fluorescing light is narrowed into a small band of wavelengths after is passes through the emissions filter in the dichroic filter cube. This cuts out extraneous light waves. The quality of these excitation and emissions filters is crucial to obtaining a clear and crisp fluorescent image in the microscope eyepieces. Our microscopes come with standard filter sets such as blue, green, purple and UV. We can order specialized fluorescence filter sets as we are a dealer for Omega Filters that are made in USA. For specialized fluorescence applications, and for best imaging, it is recommended to special order a custom made filter set.
Some natural organic and inorganic specimens will fluoresce if the proper excitation wavelengths are incident on them. However, in biological applications using fluorescence microscopy, most often a specimen is labeled with a fluorophore such as green fluorescent protein, also known as GFP. Other common fluorescent dyes (stains) used to cause the specimen to fluoresce are fluorescein and Dylight 488.
A fluorescence microscope is a necessary microscopy tool for a biology research laboratory. It does not need to cost a fortune to do the job. We can provide units that are upright with the specimen placed on a glass microscope slide. In these upright epifluorescence microscopes, the objectives face down, just as in a typical transmitted light compound light microscope.. We can also provide inverted epi-fluorescence microscopes that have their objectives facing up as in a typical inverted tissue culture microscope. These microscopes are used for viewing the biological fluorescent specimen in a petri dish.
Whatever your application, please contact us today for your needs for fluorescence microscopy equipment. We have trained biologists on staff who are happy to discuss your specific needs.