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Confocal microscopy

In its simplest form, light microscopy uses light to illuminate an object and a lens to magnify it. Depending on the type of microscopy and the purpose, different light sources can be used. These include natural light, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), metal halide sources, lasers, and tungsten, halogen, mercury and xenon lamps.

In confocal microscopy, a focused beam of light, usually from a laser or lasers of different colours, scans across the sample one point at a time. Out-of-focus light above and below the point of focus is filtered out and eliminated from the final image. Thin optical slices through an object can be stacked on top of each other to create a digital 3D reconstruction if required.

This film features Stuart Townsend from Medical Research Council, Harwell.