Virtually everyone has used an optical microscope, if only to dissect a frog in school or to observe the life forms in a drop of pond water. The optical microscope is a powerful research tool in many areas of science, such as biology, geology, medicine and, more recently, semiconductor metrology. As the need to visualize submicron structures has become more pressing, several new types of microscopes have been developed—for example, the confocal scanning optical microscope, the scanning acoustic, the scanning electron and the scanning tunneling microscopes.

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