Confocal Microscopy with Transmitted Light

  • A. E. Dixon
  • Carol Cogswell


Although confocal reflection (brightfîeld) and fluorescence microscopy have found widespread use in biology, scanning transmission microscopy has been explored and implemented only infrequently, and a single-pass scanning confocal transmission microscope is still not available as a commercial product. This might indeed be considered surprising, since biologists have long known the advantages of observing an enormous variety of specimens (e.g., stained or unstained, preserved or living) using conventional light microscopes with their wide range of transmission modes such as brightfîeld, phase-contrast, or differential interference contrast (DIC). The fact that confocal transmission modes are not generally available is partly due to the fact that most biological preparations have a complex mixture of optical properties that create regions of varying refractive index (η) and absorption. These can introduce sufficient aberration and deflection into the transmitted wavefront to make it very difficult to keep the transmitted beam aligned with a standard pinhole detector as it scans over the specimen.


Microscope Objective Transmission Image Transmitted Beam Reflection Image Wollaston Prism 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. E. Dixon
    • 1
  • Carol Cogswell
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Physical Optics Department, School of PhysicsUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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