Fluorescence microscopy is an imaging modality used to visualize specific structures in biological and other physical samples. The objects of interest in the sample (e.g. neurons, blood vessels, mitochondria, etc.) are visualized because fluorescent compounds attach to only those specific structures. Some of the most beautiful microscopy images are collected with fluorescence microscopes; check out these images presented on the Nikon MicroscopyU webpage to see some examples. Fluorescence microscopy is useful for many biology studies that focus on a specific structure or cell type. For instance, many research studies on neurons in the brain depend on the use of fluorescence microscopy modalities that specifically image neurons.
In this instructable, I will go over the basic principles of fluorescence microscopy and how to build three different low-cost fluorescence microscopes. These systems usually cost thousands of dollars, but there have been recent efforts to make them more readily available. The designs I present here utilize a smart phone, a dSLR, and a USB microscope. All of these designs also work as brightfield microscopes. Let’s get started!”