To have a full understanding of the theories behind the instruments we're using to produce the Virtual Microscope data, we are generating a variety of training materials. These materials, which are still in progress, describe the basics of light, electron, and scanning probe microscopies, as well as how to operate the Virtual Microscope.
In addition to these microscopy manuals, NASA has also produced teacher training materials, lesson plans, and conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of the project. You can read about this work, conducted by Dr. Laura Blasi at Saint Leo University on their project website.
Virtual Microscope Help
We have developed a number of short
illustrate the major functionality of the Virtual
Microscope application. Watching these is the fastest
and easiest way to learn the software. They are
accessible from the help page.
Microscopy Basics Animated Tutorials
We have produced (some still in progress) a number of detailed interactive animations that illustrate the basics of imaging in the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Fluorescence Microscope (LM), and the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). These animations are suitable for use in classroom and individual study, and the content comes from our talented microscopy staff with tens of years of collective experience.
All animations require Flash! Download Flash
Electron Microscopy Basics
Do you wonder how an electron microscope can see at such a high magnification? How does it transcend the limitations of light microscopy? What does an SEM look like? What are its components? This animation answers all of your questions about the basics of SEM microscopy, and illustrates how our SEM captures the data you can see on our data page.
Light Microscopy Basics
This detailed tutorial will introduce you to light microscopy. You will learn about the physics of light and the consequences and benefits it has for microscopy. Then you will review optics, microscope hardware and basic adjustments. Also, you will learn about methods that exploit the properties of light to help us see sample features. Finally you'll cover the field of fluorescent light microscopy.
Atomic Force Microscopy Basics
What the heck is an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), a type of scanning probe microscope? How does it 'see' atomic resolution? How does it provide the Virtual Microscope with three dimensional data about topography? This animation will show you the basics behind this imaging technique, and covers scanning tunneling, contact mode, and tapping mode AFM.
Basics of Sample Preparation
We have produced a series of short videos (~5 min. each) that demonstrate the basics of sample prepartion for a variety of microscopy techniques.
All movies require Quicktime 7!
Preparing a Sample for the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
This video walks through the procedures used to prepare samples for electron imaging, including: placement on an SEM stub, sputter coating, and insertion into the instrument.
Preparing a Sample for the Fluorescence Microscope (LM)
This video walks through the procedures used to prepare samples for fluorescence microscope imaging (the Fluorescence Microscope is one example of a 'light' microscope), including: the preparation of naturally fluorescing materials, sectioning and staining of tissue samples, the culturing of cells, and insertion of microscope slides into the instrument.
Preparing a Sample for the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)
This video walks through the procedures used to prepare samples for the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), including: placement of the specimen on the sample disk, inspection of the AFM tip, mounting of the contact-mode tip into the cantilever holder, insertion of the holder into the microscope head, sample alignment, and adjustment of the laser.
Careers that Utilize Microscopy
Microscopes are used to enable the research goals of a vast array of fields. People in fields as diverse as food science, materials science, biology, and chemistry use microscopes for something. If you find using the Virtual Microscope a fun and interesting activity, you might also be interested in a career that utilizes the real instruments themselves. The following videos explore some of those careers by listening to a number of students and professionals about their own worki, and how they use microscopes to enbable it.
All movies require Quicktime 7!
Career Paths that Utilize Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
This video interviews a number of students and professionals about their careers and how they use the SEM in their work. The interviewees include an entomologist, geologist, chemist, and materials engineer. They talk about and show their work, giving an idea of what it would be like to pursue a similar career path in the sciences or engineering.
Career Paths that Utilize Light Microscopy
This video interviews a number of students and professionals about their careers and how they use the light microscopy in their work. The interviewees include a materials chemist and two materials scientists. They talk about and show their work, giving an idea of what it would be like to pursue a similar career path in the sciences or engineering.
- Download the Light Microscopy Career Paths Video (small)
- Download the Light Microscopy Career Paths Video (large)
Career Paths that Utilize Atomic Force Microscopy
This video interviews a number of students and professionals about their careers and how they use the Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) in their work. The interviewees include a materials scientist and two microscopists. They talk about and show their work, giving an idea of what it would be like to pursue a similar career path in the sciences or engineering.
Fundamentals of Environmental SEM
The instrument we use on a daily basis is an Environmental SEM, which means we can image specimens under low vacuum with water vapor in the chamber. Our SEM engineer has prepared a document that outlines this feature.