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The newcomer to a biological optics laboratory browses to a website with a catalog of optical parts, intending to purchase a mirror, and is confronted by a large number of offerings. Each part description indicates it is to be used for a specific purpose, wavelength range, etc. The newcomer first wonders, “Why are there so many varieties of mirrors?” and shortly afterwards, “How do I know which mirror to use for my specific purpose?”
This paper seeks to answer that question, by providing practical, useful information on the specific topic of the now ubiquitous flat dielectric mirror. It also outlines some of the key design considerations and specifications one should consider when selecting the appropriate flat mirror for an optical system used in biology.