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Oil Immersion Use and Cleanup: the Standard Laboratory Compound Light Microscope Send Print

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Created: Thursday, 21 February 2013
Last update: Friday, 22 March 2013
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Using and Cleaning Up Immersion Oil

The second of two related interactive learning object animations, this animation demonstrates the use and removal of immersion oil with the 100X magnification objective of the standard laboratory compound light microscope.



This animation provides instructions for the use of immersion oil with the standard laboratory compound light microscope.  The rationale for the use of immersion oil is presented, a method for the application of immersion oil is shown, and an oil immersion objective focusing technique is demonstrated. Cleaning procedures for correct removal of immersion oil are provided. An interactive presentation style is employed throughout the animation. Voice-over narration accompanies each page in this six-page animation, encouraging student interaction and assisting visually impaired students. Closed-caption text is provided for hearing impaired students. The glossary gives applicable definitions.  This animation continues the instruction begun in the companion learning object, “Focusing the Microscope: the Standard Laboratory Compound Light Microscope.”


Microscopy laboratory undergraduate curriculum guidelines include the use of the bright field light microscope. In order to successfully use the microscope, students must be able to set  up and focus images and utilize proper handling and cleaning techniques.  Mastering the use of the oil immersion objective is an essential laboratory skill.  Students using the compound light microscope to observe bacteria must know how to use the 100x oil immersion objective. The goal of this animation is to familiarize students with the use of immersion oil.   Correct procedures for adding and removing immersion oil are described and demonstrated.  This animation can be used as an adjunct in preparation for lab sessions and as a review tool outside of the laboratory.


This animation was created and constructed using the Flash Creative Suite 4 software. All illustrations were drawn in Flash and animations were programmed using Action Script 2. The Flash animations export to a reference .html file.


Through viewing this animation, students gain understanding of practical skills in the use of immersion oil. Concepts important to understanding the value of using immersion oil, such as refractive index and enhancement of resolution by the use of oil, are presented. The overall value of immersion oil in allowing the user to make observations of bacterial morphology and arrangement are also discussed.  Students learn to make observations of various specimens, including bacteria, fungi, and parasites, with the compound light microscope.  An appropriate method for removal of immersion oil from the microscope, an essential routine maintenance task, is presented.  This animation provides a valuable enhancement to traditional laboratory textbook instruction helping
students acquire skills so they can use the microscope confidently.

Page 1 shows how to navigate through the learning object and describes features such as closed captioning.
Page 2 gives the purpose of this interactive learning object: function of immersion oil, focusing with the 100x objective, and clean-up of immersion oil.
Page 3 discusses the utility of immersion oil and provides definitions for refractive index and resolution.
Page 4 uses an interactive vignette to demonstrate how to place immersion oil and focus the 100x objective.
Page 5 gives precautions for protecting the non-oil immersion objectives from contacting oil used with the oil immersion objective.
Page 6 provides authors’ information and the citation for the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria image #2296, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Richard Facklam, 1980.


1.  Facklam R. 1980.  Staphylococcus aureus bacteria ID#2296. Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.
2.  Mae M. 1974. Echinococcus scoleces cystic-staged parasitic cestodes ID#1450, #1452, #1453. Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.

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