Scientific microscopes are used for countless purposes; from tissue analysis, through examining forensic evidence, and all the way to deciphering atomic structures. Though their uses vary, their construction shares one essential requirement – a superior micro camera. As the field of imaging solution endlessly evolves, so do the number of possibilities when it comes to selecting the right types of camera, one that would not only overcome the limitations of the human eye, but one that would be able to see what we have yet to detect.
When choosing a microscope camera, there are three key elements to consider: A general sense of vision technology, an understanding of the image sensor, and a clear idea of the microscope’s use. Once you’ve defined those three elements, you can select the micro camera that will best optimize your microscope’s function.
What is a Microscope Camera?
In the simplest terms, the microscope camera is used to magnify tiny and sometimes fast-moving objects using artificial light. Many different fields and industries use microscopes to study organic and industrial materials in medicine and biology, material sciences and forensics.
A vital example of scientific applications is the way microscopes are used in the field of epidemiology, to study, prevent and contain the spread of viruses. They have been instrumental in engineering solutions to the present COVID-19 pandemic.
In neuromedicine and neurobiology, microscopes are used to examine brain cells, as well as the intercellular space. The study of DNA would not have been possible without them. Microscope cameras allow innovative studies of the micro-structures of larger organisms, like the iridescent scales on butterfly wings and the abdomens of some spiders.
How Does a Microscope Camera Work?
Optical microscopes use lenses to magnify objects viewed through an eyepiece. Nowadays, digital microscopes dominate in all fields, because they offer a variety of advantages. In a digital microscope, the optics are often still there, but a camera is mounted in place of the optical eyepiece and real-time images are displayed on the monitor of a computer.
This makes the modern microscope a hybrid and more complicated technological piece. These days, you need to evaluate not only the lens but also the digital sensor of the camera. Visual information passes through the microscope lens to the camera sensor and is then relayed to the monitor in the form of digital data.
The sensitivity and type of the sensor is, therefore, a key factor. ScoutCam, for instance, relies on potent CMOS sensors. The resolution, pixel size, count and uniformity, frame rate, dynamic range and depth of field, as well as quantum efficiency and spectral range are now key factors in the way a microscope camera works.
The Microscope Camera Technology
The modern microscope is a multi-part and highly customizable system of several interconnected digital technologies. Microscope cameras can range from large and costly industrial designs, to affordable and portable designs, to specialist micro cameras, 1mm microscope cameras, such as ScoutCam’s. There are different ways of mounting cameras onto the microscope and connecting them to computers.
Cameras can be mounted over the optical eyepiece or instead of it. Special digital microscope camera adapters are used to enable mounting a variety of cameras onto the same microscope stand. Different types of USB chords and computer software enable the relaying of information to the computer for processing, which may be as complex as online collaboration to analyze video footage of samples monitored in real-time.
While there are many variables, the image sensor remains the one key constant in the digital microscope setup. When choosing an image sensor and other components, like chords and software, the key factors to consider are image quality and the speed of capturing and relaying of visual information.
Evaluating an Image Sensor for Life Science Applications
In evaluating an image sensor, you need to first and foremost choose between faster and slower technologies, depending on the tasks you want to perform. Begin by choosing between a charged coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS). CCD sensors have a lower frame rate, so images take longer to capture, but the image quality is very high due to pixel uniformity. CMOS sensors are designed for higher speeds and higher resolutions. Generally, the CMOS is the most popular technology for most standard tasks, due to their high performance.
Scientific Microscope Cameras are Used in Medical Clinics, Universities, Schools, Laboratories and More
The modern scientific microscope camera is a complex piece of technology, but its complexity makes it more customizable and allows an unprecedented variety of applications in science. Microscope cameras are used for treatment and study purposes in medical clinics and laboratories, for research purposes in universities across the world, for the fostering of scientific knowledge in schools. While some components are expensive and difficult to operate, others have become affordable and accessible, so that many professionals and enthusiasts own high-quality microscopes at home.
The range of applications of the scientific microscope paired with a high-def micro camera constantly extended and expanded, breaking more bounds than ever.