The Virtual Microscope

An online Interactive look at Microscopy

The virtual microscope allows people all over the world to study specimens when ever and however they want.

Unlike prepared slides or photographs, virtual images allow viewers to target a certain spot of a specimen for detailed study and provides the tools to manipulate the image to see what it looks like from a different angle and more.

Computer Technology

Virtual microscopes use computer technology to store hundreds of images of a particular specimen and provide those views to anyone with an Internet connection and a computer.

Real time images can also be sent via the internet to remote locations, including classrooms, and providing laboratory exploration in educational facilities that may lack sophisticated equipment.

You can view virtual microscopic images at numerous websites 24-hours a day seven days a week.

This provides independent study of specimens, once only available to graduate students, scientists and research facility employees.

Virtual Electron Microscope

Discovery Education has an interactive virtual electron microscope with prepared slides that lets people see the detailed parts of many common objects.

Human cells, insect and plant parts are just a few of the slides available for viewing as seen through an electron microscope.

Educational Benefits

Virtual technology has great educational benefits, in addition to allowing remote educational facilities without laboratory equipment to educate their students.

The University of Delaware provides a virtual tutorial to teach people to operate a compound microscope, including identifying the parts of the microscope, how to focus, operate and view prepared slides.

This virtual microscope tutorial allows individuals with limited laboratory skills to learn how to use a compound microscope in the comfort of their home. Students without access to laboratory equipment can use this virtual website to learn skills without purchasing equipment.

Many virtual slides have annotations and exercises that can enhance learning and provide additional avenues of study.

Changing the illumination, adding stains or fluorescence and exposing the specimen to laser light or electrifying it are all possible using virtual microscopic technology websites.


Research applications have no boundaries when using virtual microscopy.

Now scientists can link scientific journals and papers to virtual microscopic slides, allowing others in their field to document or disprove theories and expand their research using the virtual slides as a starting point for related investigation.

Slides of bacteria and viruses that cause disease and rare illnesses can be instantly transmitted to laboratories and health organizations around the world.

This allows teams of doctors, scientists and chemists to help provide treatment, cures and stay ahead of contagious outbreaks.

Power Point presentations of virtual specimen slides are viewable as part of a lecture or from any other part of the world through an Internet connection.

Specific areas of study, including pathology, microbiology, botany, microsurgery, ophthalmology, histology, are just a few of the medical fields that benefit from this type of instant access to lectures and virtual slide technology.

With this type of technology, medical students in Europe, Asia or North America can attend a presentation by doctors in New Zealand, enhancing understanding.


  • Nikon - Many providers of virtual microscope imaging, including Nikon’s MicroscopyU, allows users to modify stain, brightness, axis orientation and images. This interactive Java tutorial provides detailed text on the virtual specimens, and explains the microscope’s various parts and uses.
  • Olympus - The Olympus Microscopy Resource Center Virtual Microscopy Website, powered by Java, provides a wide variety of illumination options, phase enhancements, staining techniques and basic microscope instruction.
  • Zeiss – The Zeiss Interactive Tutorials focus on the effects of illumination on specimens, and provide information on spectral and wavelength imaging, as well as basic microscope techniques. Protein strands, super resolution images and optical sectioning of samples are included in this websites many interactive virtual lessons.
  • Leica - User friendly and providing a variety of web hosting options, the Leica Company is taking research into the next century. Leica provides the microscopes, networking units and computer software that allows many hospitals, research facilities and field scientists to share their findings instantly with others.

Quick Summary

Independent study and research, cutting-edge technology and the ability to share information and results instantly around the world is what virtual microscope technology is all about.

The advances in computer software allow even young children to learn how to use sophisticated lab equipment at home.

Here's a great article on the Virtual Electron Microscope on our website. 

Return from Virtual Microscope to Digital Microscope 

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