Already in 1590, the first optical microscope - two lenses in a tube - was developed, although it is hard to identify the original inventors. Technical improvements during the following centuries made microscopy very popular among the scientists. In 1903, Richard Zsigmondy developed the ultra microscope that made it possible to study objects below the wavelength of light. He was awarded the 1925 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Another improvement was made by Fritz Zernike in the 1930s, when he invented a microscope where light phase content enhanced the image contrast. In 1953, he was awarded the Physics Prize for the phase-contrast microscope, allowing studies of colorless and transparent biological materials.

Professor Frits Zernike receives the telegram notifying him that he has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics while at his home in Groningen, the Netherlands. Flowers and further telegrams soon arrive. Professor Zernike then shows his phase contrast microscope in action. From SF Veckorevy 1953-11-23.
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