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Most Popular Microscopy Techniques in the World Today

Many microscopy techniques have been developed in life sciences to study biological organisms and their underlying biochemical and molecular processes. Therefore, life science research can span many orders of magnitude in scale, from studying single molecules through to whole model organisms.

A wide range of microscopy techniques are available for life science research. The figure below provides a summary of the range of experimental methods available, shown as a function of their field of view and lateral resolution. Please see the table below for a detailed description of acronyms used in field of microscopy.

In the table below some of the common acronyms and their full names are detailed. Links to articles in our learning centre provide a more in-depth description of the techniques and their applications in life science research. It should be noted that CLEM is a mix of various electron and light microscopy techniques, not a single, well-defined application. More information can be found in the review by Boer et al.

Common acronym Full name
CLEM Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy
CLSM Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy
FCS Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy
FRET Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer Microscopy
LSFM Light Sheet Fluorescence Microscopy
PALM Photoactivated Localization Microscopy
SDCLM Spinning Disk Confocal Laser Microscopy
SEM Scanning Electron Microscopy
SIM Structure Illumination Microscopy
SPIM Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy
SRRF Super-Resolution Radial Fluctuations
STED Stimulated Emission Depletion
STORM Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy
TEM Transmission Electron Microscopy
TIRF Total Internal Reflectance Fluorescence Microscopy


1. Guo et al. 2008, Chem Phys Chem, 9, 5, 721-728,
2. Mockl et al. 2014, Angewandte Chemie, 53, 51, 13972 - 13977,
4. P. de Boer et al., 2015, Nature Methods, 12, 503–513,
5. N. Gustafsson et al., 2016, Nature Communications, 7, 12471,

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