Carl Zeiss has developed a phase-contrast electron microscope. In 1934, Nobel Prize winner Frits Zernike revolutionized basic bio-medical research with the invention of phase contrasting in light microscopy, which enabled better examination of almost transparent cell structures. Carl Zeiss built the first prototype of a phase-contrast microscope in 1936.
Phase contrasting is used to observe biological specimens with minimal contrast such as cell membranes. The process uses special, transparent diaphragms in the ray path to bring about a phase shift of light. Developers at Carl Zeiss have now found a way to make this phase contrasting system available to electron microscopy for the first time. Because of its short-wave radiation, electron microscopy enables a much finer display. The greatest challenge was to prevent the electron-optical phase-contrast plate, which guides the electron beam through a tiny hole, from becoming clogged through contamination. This problem has been eliminated through the use of electron-optical magnification.
The first commercial electron microscope with phase contrast from Carl Zeiss will primarily be used in biological and medical research. This microscope will enable scientists to better observe and analyze the elements of cells and how they work. Fully new applications are now available for phase contrast, 75 years after Frits Zernike’s development.
August 10, 2011