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Confocal microscopy

McConnell, Gail and Amos, William and Wilson, Tony (2011) Confocal microscopy. In: Handbook of Comprehensive Biophysics. Elsevier.

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Abstract

Chapter focusing on confocal microscopy. A confocal microscope is one in which the illumination is confined to a small volume in the specimen, the detection is confined to the same volume and the image is built up by scanning this volume over the specimen, either by moving the beam of light over the specimen or by displacing the specimen relative to a stationary beam. The chief advantage of this type of microscope is that it gives a greatly enhanced discrimination of depth relative to conventional microscopes. Commercial systems appeared in the 1980s and, despite their high cost, the world market for them is probably between 500 and 1000 instruments per annum, mainly because of their use in biomedical research in conjunction with fluorescent labelling methods. There are many books and review articles on this subject ( e.g. Pawley ( 2006) , Matsumoto( 2002), Wilson (1990) ). The purpose of this chapter is to provide an introduction to optical and engineering aspects that may be o f interest to biomedical users of confocal microscopy.