Microscopes are essential for scientists in different fields like biology, chemistry, medicine, and others, as they let them observe many things. It lets them see objects that cannot be seen by the unaided eye. It made discoveries, inventions, and innovations possible.
Microscopes allow scientists to get information about molecular and crystalline structures, as well as other aspects of samples. It helps doctors make diagnoses for cells and tissues and aids students to learn science by doing experiments, so it is a very helpful tool.
Taking care of your equipment is essential, so make sure that you place it on a solid table to minimize motion or vibrations. You should also wear proper equipment like masks, gloves, and others, to lessen the number of contaminants you might bring to the microscope.
When having powerful equipment like a microscope, of course, you want to take care of it to make sure it is in good condition. It needs regular maintenance to provide high-quality images. The cleaning it will need will depend on its type, quality of optics, and electronic and mechanical components.
You also have to think about how much is it being used and who is using it. A scientist or any professional will tend to work with their microscopes neatly compared to students; it is best to not allow them to clean it themselves, except after oil microscopy, but with the right lens paper.
Sources of Dirt and Debris
If you leave your microscope uncovered and exposed to air, it might have a buildup of dust or dirt, especially if it is not regularly used. Some have covers to protect them, like the larger ones. For smaller microscopes, most of them come with a box or carrying case, so be sure to use those if you want to store them. Those will protect them from particles brought by air. You also have to take care of the tools or accessories that come with them, because they are also essential for experiments.
Contaminants may also get to the microscope because of the users and the environment over time. When it is poorly maintained, the quality of the image or display may be affected. Make sure that when you are working with it, the place is free of contaminants and that you are wearing proper equipment. Constant temperature and setting your microscope in a sturdy workstation are best.
Another culprit is when doing oil immersion microscopy because contaminants may attach to the remaining oil and may build up. Lens paper may be used to clean up the optics gently and prevent damage. Take note of the viscosity of the oil as it may affect the difficulty you may have when removing it.
In using cleaning products like solvents, you have to be careful. Take a look at what the manufacturer has to say, including instructions and recommendations. You will probably find it in your user’s manual. It is essential because if you use the wrong materials, you might cause damage. For example, you can’t use liquid windows or eyeglass cleaners.
You only need to use enough solvents so they won’t seep to surfaces and damage some electrical or mechanical parts. Using too much might cause corrosion or separation, particularly if it gets into contact with the cement used for assembling the microscope. You also have to wear proper attire to protect yourself and avoid inhaling these solvents.
Cleaning does not have to be done too often or every after use. It will be necessary to do that if you see debris or dust that may impair imaging. However, cleaning may be a risk and cause some damage or scratches to the delicate optics. You may even introduce more contaminants if you disassemble them too often.
Remember, you always have to be gentle, as too much pressure may cause damage. Take special care with your microscope and everything will be good.
The microscope has parts that you have to pay special attention to like the optics, lenses, or others that directly affect its imaging ability. Unplug it before doing anything. Oil deposits from the skin will be normally in the knobs, levers, or the parts mostly touched by users; these areas are where dust gets attracted to, so check them. A cloth with cleaner and a dry one will be enough for them.
An expert or a qualified service center should be the one to clean the internal lenses, so don’t touch them. A dry cloth will be good for the top of the eyepiece and the ocular rims. Special lens cloths are recommended because others might cause scratches even if you think they feel soft. You may reuse them, but it is always better to use new ones. Many products in the market are specifically made for microscopes, so you can choose some of them.
Using a magnifier or loupe will help you as well. You may use a squeeze bulb to blow air and remove dirt on the surface. Distilled water is also safe to use if you need an agent. Little drops of 90% or pure isopropyl alcohol on cloth are also great for cleaning microscopes. It may help dissolve some debris, and you can easily get rid of it with a wipe.
If you need to disassemble some parts, the front components of objectives, the top lens of the condenser, and eyepieces may be cleaned externally. Avoid touching rear and internal elements. Some of the parts you have to avoid are the ones for polarizing, phase contrast, and inner condenser body.
Remember, you also have to place the microscope in an environment that suits its needs and will protect it from contaminants.
Your microscope will last and help you with tons of experiments if you take care of it. Its images or display will retain its high quality as you take care of it. Make sure that you use it properly and maintain your microscope, to get the best out of your equipment.