Development and Trends of Digital Microscope

Digital microscopes are evolved from ordinary optical microscopes. Today we will have a glance at the overview of the future trends in digital microscope development.

Many digital microscopes on the market are far from traditional optical microscopy technology. New technology usually gains a lot of attention. Ultimately, digital microscopes offer a host of numerous advantages, but this does not mean that digital microscopes can easily replace all traditional microscopes, so it is worthwhile to identify the limitations of digital microscopes and where their advantages lie.

Digital microscopy offers significant advantages in a wide range of industry quality testing, particularly surface analysis and fracture analysis. Oblique and vertical surface analysis, or on-site inspection of larger components such as turbine rotors, are just a few examples of applications where digital microscopy can show its full potential. For some applications, however, the traditional solution case of stereo or optical microscopy is more practical and cost effective. Sound advice and extensive application knowledge are therefore essential for the right choice of microscopy solution, but what are the key criteria for the successful use of digital microscopy? What are the differences between a digital microscope and a conventional microscope?

Digital microscopes are those microscopes without eyepiece where samples can be imaged directly on the display, and users can use the software to view and analyze samples in a single channel while maintaining a comfortable, relaxed sitting position. Select different components of the digital microscope according to the specific application: zoom optics with low to ultra-high magnification range, mirror holders, sliding stages, etc. A digital microscope system should have a standardized design so that it can be precisely configured for its intended use and be flexible enough to adapt to changes in general conditions. In order to provide the user with true added value beyond the reach of conventional assemblies, a digital microscope must meet the following five technical requirements.

1. Optimized digital imaging technology.

A typical digital microscope is equipped with a CCD camera. It can be perfectly combined with high-resolution optics. The camera ensures that as much information is generated as possible, while keeping the amount of data per image easily manageable. The key to determining which camera has the best imaging results is the optical performance of the microscope and its application area.

The resolution measurement of a digital image is the maximum value of the black and white line pair imaged in sharp focus.

Since the digital microscope does not contain an eyepiece, it must be able to present the live image to the detector at a high refresh rate, ideally 15 frames per second, which ensures that even when the carrier stage is moved to the XY axis position, the user can still view the image in a relaxed and comfortable position. The faster image processing speed is even more advantageous during the test. Faster image capture results in shorter overall sample processing times.

Lighting is another important issue for digital microscopes without an eyepiece. The light source equipment should be as powerful and durable as possible, and should also have a color temperature that is as close to daylight as possible to ensure that the user can obtain a true sense image of the sample.

2. Dynamic observation of a domestic process or object.

In contrast to conventional stereo microscopes, which have the disadvantage of a zoom system that does not provide a three-dimensional image, with digital microscopy, this disadvantage is more than compensated for by intelligent accessories: a 360° rotating camera that allows the user to view the sample from all sides and even offers a panorama mode to capture video of the sample. It is no exaggeration to say that this technology opens up new horizons in microscopic observation, in addition to the possibility of cleaning and demonstrating the three-dimensionality of the sample, and the standard software package has the ability to record dynamic processes in chronological order.

3. Qualitative and quantitative sample analysis.

One of the core competencies of the digital microscope is the rapid generation and analysis of 3D surface models. Using a motorized focus driver, images can be recorded in the various focal planes of the Z-axis and then the focus can be determined in each single image and the focal point of each pixel obtained. The focal structure is determined from the pixel with the best clarity, from which an optimized 3D model can be calculated, and topographic contours can be constructed based on the recorded sharp focus distance information.

To ensure reliability and accuracy, the digital microscope should be equipped with an electronically encoded zoom component.

4. To display and analyse samples over a high dynamic range.

To capture images with a high dynamic range, you can use the HDR (High Dynamic Range) method. These contrasting images are used to capture the natural luminance nuances of the entire range. The pixel value is proportional to the actual luminous density. Since almost all screens have low luminance. HDR images must therefore be adapted to this lower luminance range, but this does not detract from their advantages, especially in screen images and their gray and bright areas, where sample details are still clearly visible.

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