According to the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University, a confocal laser scanning fluorescence microscope produces three-dimensional images of living organisms. Laser scanning generates serial optical sections that are reconstructed into a three-dimensional picture.
Confocal microscopy produces images up to 2,000 times the size of the original organism. Although the images produced are of a lower quality than those produced by traditional scanning microscopes, confocal fluorescent microscopy has the advantage of being suitable for living cells and organisms. Regular scanning electron microscopes require that specimens be prepared in a such a manner that cells die and are trapped in a moment of time. In contrast, confocal microscopy allows for complete imaging of developing organisms over time.