Difference Between Optical and Electron Microscope (With Table)

A microscope is considered to be an instrument in the field of science which is conventionally used to examine various kinds of specimens. The microscope works as an instrument to provide clarity while examining any objects profoundly. It focuses on the particular object and tends to produce extremely detailed enlarged pictures of the smallest objects or an organism.

Optical Microscope vs Electron Microscope

The main difference between Optical and Electron microscopes is that an Optical microscope primarily uses light energy or photon particles as the source of its working. While an Electron Microscope uses the particles of electrons to specify the detailing of the objects under examination. 

An optical microscope is used for more general purposes of examining objects. An optical microscope uses the beams of light or particles of a photon to produce energy which initiates the examining process. It is more of a traditional way of examining, which made a revolutionary change in the field of science and medicine. 

An electron microscope is used for a more specific examination of objects under the effects of electrons as it uses the beams of electrons to inspect how the electron particles interact and react with the particular object under inspection. It is a more advanced version of a microscope that uses the particles of an electron to proceed to examine.

Comparison Table Between Optical and Electron Microscope 

Parameters of Comparison

  Optical Microscope

  Electron Microscope


The light source or photon particles.

Particles of electrons. 

Type of lens

It uses a much simpler type of lens for examining.

It uses an advanced electromagnetic lens for examination.

Work efficiency 

It produces less detailed images of objects. 

It is more advanced and can provide much greater details in the clarity of the image. 


Much cheaper than that of an electron microscope. 

More on the expensive side of the price range. 

Magnification Power 

It possesses magnification power of 1000 times to produce an image of the object. 

It possesses magnification power that can even extend up to 10,00,000 times to produce an image. 

What is Optical Microscope?

An optical microscope is considered to be more of a traditional way of the instrument, as it uses the source of energy from the particles of a photon in the atmosphere or the light energy which helps to produce an enlarged version of a particular object for the examining process in the field of science. 

An optical microscope is the oldest form and is also much simpler to use than that of the advanced microscopes that came out later. It can be very useful as it is easy to operate and can be handled for general purposes. An optical microscope also has the use of a simple lens which we come across even in our daily life that is the concave mirror to examine. 

An optical microscope may have lower resolution power in comparison to other technologically advanced microscopes, but it can still be used to inspect objects starting from a wide range which helps and contributes to the research of those objects in studying science. It provides up to 1000 times of magnifying power while producing an enlarged image of a particular object for research purposes in general use. 

An optical microscope is also very cost-efficient and can be installed easily as it is a much simpler instrument that does the job of examining objects even at an affordable cost than other advanced microscopes. 

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What is Electron Microscope?

An electron microscope is considered to be a much-advanced form of the microscope when it comes to the research purpose of highly complicated objects or structures that cannot be examined over a simple microscope. It uses an electromagnetic lens for the examination of objects. 

An electron microscope uses the particles of electrons to study the effects of the movement of electrons with the desired object. The changes in the way the electrons react when in contact with a particular object helps to determine the characteristics of that object. 

Electron microscopes being highly efficient, can produce images with great details in the structure. It can produce magnifying power of much larger than 1000000 times of clarification while examining an object and can also extend up to the need. It can also produce colored images of the examined object. 

An electron microscope comes to a lot pricier than other simpler microscopes as it is highly advanced in its apparatus. It also takes as long as few days to prepare the specimen, depending on the object of examination. It cannot be installed just anywhere without having proper knowledge and permissions to handle extensive research works. 

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Main Differences Between Optical and Electron Microscope

  1. An optical microscope can produce only black and white images, while an electron microscope can produce even colored images which help in better understanding.
  2. An optical microscope uses colored dyes to stain the object under examination. Whereas an electron microscope coats the particular object heavily with metal before examining it.
  3. An optical microscope needs about a few hours to prepare the specimen that is needed to get examined. On the other hand, it takes even up to days to prepare the specimen in an electron microscope.
  4. An optical microscope can examine both dead or living objects. But, an electron microscope can only examine dead or dry objects under its precision.
  5. An optical microscope uses a simple lens, while an electron microscope uses an electromagnetic lens for examination.


With the advancement of science and technology, various kinds of scientific instruments have been introduced to ease the purpose of research and study about a particular object. Optical microscope and Electron Microscope are helping in the extensive research of both living or dead objects in the field of science. They produce detailed images of examination, which help to know the object.

There may be differences in both kinds of microscopes, but they collectively help in the research process. One may use optical microscopes for more general purposes than electron microscopes which are made advanced to use for extensive researches. Ultimately, both prove themselves helpful while researching science and medicines.


  1. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0508-3443/6/11/304/meta?casa_token=bS9XiqNYq2kAAAAA:fjqMc5xYU04bmCAEtOadvQ7UzSK0xdDR5amc0gQLOuBXjhG9OQ3lag9m_37FoGnQpX9tHV2Idn-0aQ
  2. https://europepmc.org/article/med/2740861

Last update on 2022-04-03 / Amazon Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API