Microscope
Slides

A microscope slide is a thin flat piece of glass, generally 75 x 26 mm due to their imperial dimensions (3 x 1 inches) and about 1 mm thick. In most cases soda glass is used, but for specialised applications borosilicate glass is used, or even plastic. Their purpose is to hold objects for examination under a microscope. Typically the object is placed and secured, or mounted, on the slide. Microscope slides are usually used together with a cover slip or cover glass, a smaller and thinner sheet of glass that is placed over the specimen.


History

The origin of the concept was pieces of ivory or bone, containing specimens held between disks of transparent mica, which would slide into the gap between the stage and the objective. These "sliders" were popular in Victorian England until the Royal Microscopical Society introduced the standardized glass microscope slide.

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MICROSLIDE PLAIN
76x26x0.8-1.0
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MICROSLIDE PLAIN
76x26x 1.0-1.2
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MICROSLIDE FROSTED
76x26x1.1mm
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MICROSLIDE FROSTED
CLIPPED CORNERS 76x26x1.1mm
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MICROSLIDE FROSTED
HYDROPHILIC CLIPPED CORNERS
76x26x1.1mm
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LARGE MICROSLIDE FROSTED
76x51x1.1mm
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PLUS+FROST POSITIVE
CHARGED MICROSLIDES
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PLUS+FROST POSITIVE
CHARGED LARGE MICROSLIDES
76x39x1.1mm
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POLYFROST
POLY LYSINE COATED
ADHESIVE MICROSLIDES
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SILANE COATED
ADHESIVE MICROSLIDES
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Plain slides are the most basic but there are several other types. Frosted end slides make them easy to write on and with manufacturing volumes efficiencies this process is inexpensive so that they are more popular than plain slides. A concavity slide or cavity slide has one or more shallow depressions, or wells, and are designed to hold slightly thicker objects. These are also used for certain samples such as liquids and tissue cultures. Slides can have clipped corners for increased safety or for use with a slide clamp on a microscope. They also tend to avoid slides getting chipped in automated processes which causes debris in machines.


A graticule slide, or counting chamber, is marked with a grid of lines that allows the size of objects seen under magnification. This allows you to reference areas for counting minute objects.


Slides are now available with coloured ends for identification and allow print from slide inkjet or thermal printers.


For small specimens that don’t easily adhere special coatings can be applied by the manufacturer for chemical inertness or enhanced cell adhesion. The coating may have a permanent electric charge to hold thin or powdery samples or poly-L-lysine, silane to name some.


The properties of a slide is important although mostly the way slides are packed and stored is the cause of problems. Change in temperature causes moisture which creates a ‘sticking effect’. This can be identified with a rainbow pattern seen within a block of slides. Often placing the slides in a warm place will resolve this issue. It is normal for manufacturers to allow a certain amount of microscopic glass particles on the slide in the cleaning process to stop them sticking to each other. This can give the appearance of ‘dusty’ slides although this shouldn’t cause any background staining and therefore no effect on the result.


Some slides appear ‘green’ to the eye but generally has no effect on results. Over hydrophobic and hydrophilic glass causes issues with adhesion with histological samples for instance.

Once the slide is prepared mounting of specimens is often critical for successful viewing. This can be done manually or in an automated process depending on the type.


Dry mounting is the simplest kind of mounting where the object is merely placed on the slide. A cover slip may be placed on top to protect the specimen while the object is viewed microscopically while pressed flat. This method can be used for viewing specimens such as pollen, feathers, hairs or airborne dust.


Wet mounting the specimen is when a drop of water or other liquid held between the slide and the cover slip by surface tension. This method may be used to view microscopic organisms that grow in pond water especially when studying their movement.


Prepared mount is used for pathological and biological research. The specimen undergoes a complex histological preparation that involves fixing it to prevent decay by removing any water contained in it before infiltrating it with paraffin. Very thin sections are cut using a microtome to reduce to a depth of three microns which is often the equivalent of a single cell. Staining the tissue using various stains reveals specific tissue components and abnormalities such as disease including cancer.


There are various types of mounting media depending on the specimen, process or preference. These include non-aqueous mountants including xylene or toluene based or aqueous.