Taylor, Robert J. Consultant in Microscopy, Falls Church, Virginia.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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A technique that creates high-resolution images of very small objects but differs from conventional optical microscopy in that it uses a condenser lens to focus the illuminating light from a point source into a very small, diffraction-limited spot within the specimen, and an objective lens to focus the light emitted from that spot onto a small pinhole in an opaque screen (see illustration). Located behind the screen is a detector capable of quantifying how much light passes through the hole at any instant. Because only light from within the illuminated spot is properly focused to pass through the pinhole and reach the detector, any stray light from structures above, below, or to the side of the spot is filtered out. The image quality is therefore greatly enhanced.
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