The right care needs to be provided for a microscope in order for it to work the way it is supposed to. If you neglect your microscope, you will be neglecting an investment. Think about the amount of money that would go into purchasing a 3D laser scanning confocal microscope, after spending such huge sums of money, you cannot just leave it to collect dirt.
But whether you have a simple school laboratory microscope or you have the latest 3D laser scanning confocal microscope, you need to maintain it. But what do maintenance and cleaning involve? Let us take a look.
The Sources of Dust and Dirt
It is almost impossible to keep the microscope dirt free. Dust is usually in the air and eventually, it settles on objects around it. If it is left for long without use, it is more than likely going to get carpeted in dust. At times also dirt can be introduced by the people using the microscope. Hands, eyes, and nose can all be culprits smearing dirt on different surfaces.
Some areas will need critical attention because of their exposure to a lot of dust. These include:
- The camera adapter optics, particular the exposed surface
- All glass surfaces that include the filters, lenses, and lamps
- The slide
- The exposed surface of the object lens
- The upper lens condenser
Caring for the Lens
The lens needs to be kept as clean as possible because any dirt or foreign substance on the lens is going to affect the clarity of the sample. It could either make it hard to see what is there because the image is distorted or you could mistake it for part of the sample. This means before you use the microscope, you need to check the optical lens for dirt and other foreign substances that will result in optical noise.
It is a good practice to clean the lens before applying immersion fluid as well as after using the microscope. Embedding media can attach itself to the lens anytime so cleaning as often as possible is a good idea.
The immersion media might be useful to ensure a clear view, but at the same time, it can contribute to loss of clarity if it is not properly cleaned off after use. Do not store the lens with the liquid still on them.
If you have digital cameras as well, there is more need for maintenance since they are susceptible to degradation of picture quality if the right care is not provided regularly. The image sensor and filters can be contaminated to the extent that they will display the foreign contaminants in the sample image. It is not just important to clean the lens, but also to try and prevent as much contamination from occurring. Keeping them in the right protective gear can help to do that.
It is also necessary to read the manufacturer’s manual to find out other care suggestions to ensure that the lens are clean and safe.