Olympus Enhances Science With Digital Microscope

In what could lead the way for digital microscopes in the classroom, Olympus America Inc. has introduced the MIC-D, a unique digital microscope that enables an entire class to see a magnified image simultaneously. This is possible because the MIC-D d'esn't have the eyepieces of a traditional microscope for viewing. Instead, it hooks di-rectly into a PC via a USB-cable connection to produce live, full-color 310,000-pixel (640 x 480) images for viewing on a monitor or large projection screen. These images are produced from a CMOS digital camera that sends digital images directly to the computer. In addition, the MIC-D comes with software that allows the user to instantly capture, save, mod-ify and e-mail images taken from the microscope. This software also provides the ability to make digital real-time or time-lapse AVI movies.

What makes the MIC-D so unique is its inverted design, which has the lens looking up at the stage of the microscope instead of down on the specimen. This presents greater clarity of large objects and water samples. It features a versatile illumination system that can be tilted at different angles to enhance contrast, even allowing reflected light viewing for solid materials. MIC-D also automatically adjusts the amount of light in the image to correspond with the zoom level. This helps eliminate overexposure and underexposure, even when the magnification is changed. The digital microscope is powered by one master lens that can zoom from 22X to 255X, instead of having a series of fixed lenses like those typically found in conventional microscopes. This allows students and teachers to easily change magnification using the tactile handgrip without moving the sample.

The MIC-D is available for $995 at www.mic-d.com. The Web site also serves as a great resource for educational microscopy, with applications, curriculum and an image gallery perfect for use in the classroom.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2003 issue of THE Journal.