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What to Think About When Choosing a Microscope for Your Lab


What to think about when choosing a microscope for your lab

by Lab Manager
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Optical microscopes are a common tool found in almost all laboratories that illuminate and magnify a specimen. Optical microscopes offer ease of use but have limited resolving power. If a much higher resolution and greater depth of focus is required, then a scanning electron microscope (SEM) might be more useful. SEMs use a beam of focused high-energy electrons to produce information about the specimen including morphology, chemical composition, and crystalline structure. For a list of microscope manufacturers, see our online directory:

12 Questions to Ask When Buying a Microscope:


  1. What types of specimens will be examined?
  2. What degree of magnification is required?
  3. What is the light source?
  4. Are there attachments and accessories available to adapt the microscope for different applications?
  5. What service and warranty options are available?


  1. Will you need a floor model or smaller desktop model? Desktop models are often more affordable.
  2. What is the finest resolution you want to achieve?
  3. What is the microscope speed?
  4. How many individuals will use the microscope and how will they be trained?
  5. Is there sufficient space in the laboratory or a dedicated room for the SEM?
  6. What ergonomic features are available?
  7. What service and warranty options are available?

Ergonomic Considerations

It may not seem important, but factoring ergonomics into your considerations when purchasing a microscope can prove beneficial. Laboratory personnel, especially those working in clinical labs, can spend long hours working at a microscope. In order to minimize the risk of back, neck, shoulder, and arm injury, make sure your microscopes best suit the user’s body. 

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Maintenance Tip

Maintaining your lab microscopes is a relatively simple prospect that can save you a lot of time and money down the line. Some simple steps to take are to keep your microscopes away from water, sinks, or any hazardous chemicals, as well as making sure to keep the microscope unplugged and covered when not in use.