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Advanced Condenser Systems: Abbe Condensers

Bryozoans: Genus Bugula

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. The digital images are unretouched and were captured with the QX3 interactive software.

Bryozoans, commonly known as "moss animals," are tiny colonial organisms that in live in aquatic environments where they feed on microscopic plankton. Like the corals, these sessile creatures were thought to be plants until the mid-1700s. Freshwater bryozoans live alongside plants in clear, quiet water. Marine species live primarily in the shallow waters of the continental shelf, but can also be found in deeper waters. Bryozoans will colonize any submerged surfaces, including the hulls of ships and the insides of water pipes. They also grow on seaweed, form crusts on stones and shells, and hang from boulders. A few bryozoan species form nonattached populations on sandy seabeds. The Bugula genus is widely distributed along the North American coastline.

Bryozoa, Genus Bugula, Whole Mount
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.

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