Technical terms

InformationHere we explain some technical terms you might not be familiar with

  • Focal plane / layer: High-resolution microscope objectives allow for examining tiniest structures in high resolution and magnification, but on the downside offer an only very limited depth of field / focus, which can be much less than one micrometer. Because even the best thin sectioned microscopy preparations are much thicker than this, most parts of the specimen will be out of focus when examining them under the microscope. This usually makes it neccessary to look at a large number of different focal planes ("focusing through the specimen") to develop a deeper understanding of the anatomical structures.
  • Extended focus image / focus stacking: The parts of the specimen which are displayed sharply in different focal planes can be combined into a single image by applying focus stacking, the resulting image now has an artificially extremely enhanced depth of field. This makes details from different focal planes visible at the same time, but comes at the expense of loosing information about the three-dimensional structure of the investigated object, and usually the extended focus image mostly looks significantly different from what you can see directly on the microscope.
  • Open Educational Resource (OER): These are educational materials which are offerend in mostly digital form under an open license for free and open use, editing and redistribution. More information about this is given e.g. by the Unesco Open Educational Resources webpage.
  • Slide scanner / slidescanning microscope: An automated microscope that can automatically capture large areas of a specimen in the form of overlapping fields of view and across many focal planes.
  • Stitching: The process of combing individual fields of view into one large overall image, similar to the panorama function of modern smartphones and foto cameras.