The Microscopic View Of Biological Samples

Microscopy is defined as the process of a technical field that uses microscopes for viewing objects and areas of biological molecules.  These objects cannot be seen by naked eyes, so to visualize these, microscopes are used.  Till now, there are three broad and distinct branches of microscopy that have prevailed in the scientific world. These are as follows:

Though all these microscopy uses microscopes for viewing objects, they are quite distinct in their components and working mechanism.  One such broad and distinct difference exists between the phase contrast microscopes and normal standard microscopes.  Both types of microscopes come in the category of optical microscopy. It uses the processes of diffraction,  refraction, reflection, interference formation, etc to magnify the images of samples.  The electromagnetic radiation and electron beams are used in optical microscopy (phase-contrast microscopy)  for magnifying all types of biological samples.   All beams of electromagnetic light or electro beams interact with the specimen and collect at a point before scattering in different directions.   In both types of microscopy (phase-contrast microscopy and standard normal microscopy), refraction and diffraction processes happen that help in observing the specimens in a good way under the microscopes.

The phase-contrast microscopy uses the property of biological samples to behave like phase objects.  An inverted phase-contrast microscope converts the direct light penetrating the specimens into the diffracted light. So, the specimen gets illuminated easily.  On the other hand, normal standard microscopy uses beams of electromagnetic light to form the images of specimens under the microscope. However, both types of microscopes (phase-contrast and normal standard microscopes) are used in the observations of the biological samples, they differ in their mode of working and observations. 

Major Differences In The Phase Contrast And Normal Standard Microscopes

Phase-contrast microscopy and standard normal microscopy are complementary techniques of magnification.   Both are useful in producing clear images of the biological samples. The inverted phase microscope is also helpful in the process of magnifying specimens.  But with a normal standard microscope, only a least clear image can be obtained. With the best trinocular microscope of phase contrast, you can get highly visualized images of the biological samples. 

In phase-contrast microscopy and normal standard normal microscope, there are vast and extensive  differences which are as follows :

1.  The Difference In Refractive Indexes

Phase-contrast microscopy is used  for observing the cells in cell culture.  Here, the specimens used for observation do not possess the ability to absorb light.  The specimens do not contain any color but can have distinct refractive indexes, which helps in scattering light beams.  While in the normal compound microscopes, the refractive index scattering is not found.  The beams of light are direct that reflect and form the images. There is no phase shift like in phase-contrast microscopy. Phase shifts are not visible in the culture microscope but can be seen with the help of a telescope fitted to it. Moreover, the human eye cannot detect the phase shifts of phase-contrast microscopy. But in normal standard microscopes, no phase shifts occur and you can also track the light beam trajectories. The use of an inverted microscope is to give out the perfect magnified images of specimens.

2.  The Type Of Specimen

Both types of microscopy are used in the formation of tissue culture microscopes. Because of their capability to produce high magnified images,  these microscopy techniques are useful.   As far as the type of biological specimens is concerned. It is seen that in a culture microscope of phase-contrast nature, the thickness of the specimen plays a great role. The thicker the biological specimen, the crisp, and clearer is the image formed by the microscope. Indeed, the thinner specimens don’t allow the light to form phase shifts and thus,  inhibits image formation. On the other hand, the normal compound microscope magnifies the image well in thinner specimens. The transparent objects can scatter the light very efficiently.  

Another type of specimen like amplitude specimens works well with the phase contrast microscopes. As they possess the color for decreasing the brightness of the passing light on their own.  The normal compound microscope cannot penetrate the light through the specimens. Some pigmented specimens like chloroplasts are selectively stained to produce magnification in the microscope.  No staining of biological specimens is required for phase-contrast microscopy.  But in the normal compound microscope requires staining of the biological specimens.  However, a vast majority of specimens are a combination of both amplitude and non-amplitude phase objects. 

3.  The Color Of The Biological Samples

In phase-contrast microscopy using a trinocular head,  the samples are visualized as dark images. As a viewer, you cannot detect the actual color of the biological samples used.  While in the normal compound microscope, the colors of the samples can be detected in it. That means there is no mistake in the detection of the color of the specimen. For example, the bacteria should be observed in the phase-contrast microscope,  rather than a normal compound microscope.

4.  Visibility Of Sample’s Structures

The View Under Phase Contrast Microscope View Of Cell Sample

Microscopes are used for the magnification of biological samples. The real purpose behind the discovery of microscopes is to provide its viewers with more sophisticated images of the samples. In this case, the phase-contrast microscope outperforms the normal compound microscopes. The phase contrast microscopes can very efficiently visualize the images of the biological samples under its eyepiece. On the other hand, the normal compound microscopes do not provide a detailed view of the biological samples and hence, fail in structuring them.  In the biological labs, it is advised to use the best trinocular microscope of phase-contrast nature for samples.  Though the normal compound microscope can be also used but with the addition of the light components.

5.  Zooming In And Zooming Out Feature

This feature is the core of any microscopy technique.  The phase contrast and normal microscopes have the feature of zooming in and out the magnified images.   But in the phase-contrast microscopy, the feature is replaced by phase shifts. With this, the researchers can shift the light phases in a good direction for viewing the images. On the other hand, normal compound microscopes have some features to zoom in and out. These features are present in the dial of the compound microscope, so the viewer can easily adjust the knob for better magnification of the process.  However, the images produced by the phase contrast microscopes are crisp and clear but it lacks the proper magnification feature.

6.  Affordability

It is seen that microscopes are the expensive units of the research labs. Without the implementation of microscopes, research is impossible.  In this case, the phase-contrast microscopes are more expensive than the normal compound microscopes. Because they are made up of some extensive components, they are more expensive. As per your cost of the lab, do check the trinocular microscope price online as well as offline medium. The trinocular compound microscope can be bought at less price than the inverted phase microscope.  


Phase contrast and normal standard microscopes are an integral part of the research lab. Both have their applications and uses.  But in comparison, between the two, the above-mentioned points are taken into consideration.  The differences are distinct and can be observed in their mechanisms of working. Before going for any of the above microscopes, do tally the differences between the two.

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