A microscope is a specialized scientific instrument that is used to study objects that cannot be seen by the naked human eye. The most well known type of microscopes use a glass lens to magnify the size of an object so that it can be observed. They often make use of light to illuminate the subject of study. They can also be adjusted for different views and magnifications. There are many types of microscope including the optical microscope, electron microscope and the scanning probe microscope. Let’s take a look specifically at the invention of the optical microscope.
Who Invented the Microscope?
The first type of microscope to be invented was the optical microscope, but it is unclear exactly who was the first to invent this device. It is thought that the first people to use magnifying glasses as a microscope were Dutch spectacle makers Zacharias Janssen and Hans Janssen. It is thought that sometime around 1590 they created a tube like device with a number of glass lens inside. They discovered that multiple glass lenses created greater magnification than single lens. The famous scientist and inventor Galileo heard about their experiments and started work on this own. He added a focusing mechanism to the microscope and it was given the name of microscope in 1625 from Giovanni Faber. At this stage microscope has an upper magnification limit of only 10x.
People’s curiosity continued to grow and much work was done on increasing the magnification. Anthoni Van Leeuwenhoek of Holland was one of these people and he was able to create smaller and more powerful lens that could magnify up to 270x. Using his new and improved microscopes he was able to see things that no other man had seen. He observed yeast, blood cells and tiny microscopic animals in water.
In 1893 sample illumination was developed by August Köhler making lighting more even and led to greater discoveries with the microscope. Sample illumination was improved upon in 1953 by Fritz Zernike and George Nomarski who enabled transparent samples to be illuminated.