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Advanced Condenser Systems: Abbe Condensers

American Sycamore Wood

The images below compare performance of the Intel Play QX3 Computer Microscope with and without the aid of an organized cone of illumination from a substage condenser containing an aperture diaphragm. These photomicrographs are high magnifications of a 15-micron radial thin section of an American Sycamore tree trunk stained with a mixture of iron-aluminum hematoxylin and safranin O. The digital images are unretouched and were captured with the QX3 interactive software.

The American Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis, is one of the largest eastern hardwoods reaching 75 to 100 feet in height, with a wide-spreading crown of massive, crooked branches. Sometimes referred to as a "Butterwood", the American Sycamore tree can live 500 years or longer.

American Sycamore Wood Stained Thin Section
QX3 with mixing chamber (stock - 200x magnification)

QX3 with simple two-lens Abbe condenser
(200x magnification)

Semi-transparent and lightly stained specimens are often very difficult to image using unaided brightfield optical microscopy. The images presented here were recorded using the Intel Play QX3 microscope in transmitted brightfield mode. On the top is a digital image from a stock QX3 microscope using either auxiliary illumination provided by a fiber optic light pipe through a hole drilled into the mixing chamber, or standard illumination from the microscope's tungsten lamp and mixing chamber. The image on the bottom was recorded using the QX3 microscope body coupled to a simple two-lens Abbe low numerical aperture substage condenser. Illumination was provided by a 30 watt tungsten bulb housed in an illuminator with a heat sink, a frosted diffusion screen, and a daylight color-compensating filter.

BACK TO ABBE CONDENSER BRIGHTFIELD GALLERY

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