Most cells are too small to see with the naked eye. However, we can use microscopes to see the detail of very small objects, which can allow us to see what is happening inside cells.
In microscopy, ‘resolution‘ describes a microscope’s ability to distinguish detail. In other words, the shortest distance between two points that can still be distinguished as two separate entities. Different microscopes have different resolutions.
Magnification is the ratio of two equivalent quantities; therefore, it does not have any units and is represented with an ‘x’ in front. E.g. x10 or x200
A compound microscope is a microscope that uses two lenses to enhance the image of a sample. The two lenses are:
To work out the total magnification of the light microscope, the equation is:
So, if the eyepiece magnification is x10 and the objective lens magnification is x60, then the total magnification is:
10 × 60 = x600
The magnification of an image can be calculated by using the equation:
If it’s easier, you can use the ‘equation triangle’ shown below to remember the formula.