Big mi­cro mo­ments

Mi­cro­scopes have come a long way

How It Works - - SCIENCE -

750–710 Bce

The Nim­rud lens is cre­ated from a rock crys­tal disc with a con­vex shape and used for burn­ing (by con­cen­trat­ing the Sun’s rays) or for mag­ni­fi­ca­tion.

1200s

Us­ing lenses in eye­glasses be­comes com­mon prac­tice and sin­gle lens mag­ni­fy­ing glasses be­come pop­u­lar.

1619

Date of ear­li­est de­scrip­tion of a com­pound mi­cro­scope af­ter Dutch am­bas­sador Willem Boreel sees one in Lon­don be­long­ing to in­ven­tor Cor­nelis Drebbel.

1655

The first record of claims that Hans Martens and Zacharias Janssen in­vented the com­pound mi­cro­scope in 1590.

1665

Robert Hooke pub­lishes a col­lec­tion of bi­o­log­i­cal pho­tographs in Mi­cro­graphia and pi­o­neers the word ‘cell’ for the shapes he finds in bark.

1673

An­tonie van Leeuwen­hoek im­proves the sim­ple mi­cro­scope in or­der to see bi­o­log­i­cal sam­ples. He later ob­serves bac­te­ria.

1873

The Abbe sine con­di­tion is dis­cov­ered by Ernst Abbe, a re­quire­ment that a lens needs to sat­isfy if it is to form a sharp im­age that is free of any dis­tor­tions.

1951

The field ion mi­cro­scope is in­vented by Er­win Wil­helm Müller, mak­ing view­ing atoms pos­si­ble for the first time in his­tory.

1953

Pro­fes­sor of the­o­ret­i­cal physics Frits Zernike re­ceives the Physics No­bel Prize for in­vent­ing the phase-con­trast mi­cro­scope.

1967

Er­win Wil­helm Müller builds on his orig­i­nal field ion mi­cro­scope and cre­ates the first atom probe, which al­lows the chem­i­cal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of in­di­vid­ual atoms for the first time.

1991

The use of the Kelvin probe force mi­cro­scope is pub­lished and is able to ob­serve atoms and mol­e­cules.

2008

Lawrence Berke­ley Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory in­stalls a new $27-mil­lion mi­cro­scope with a res­o­lu­tion of half of an angstrom. It re­mains the most pow­er­ful mi­cro­scope.

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