What This Is

Polarized light microscopy (PLM) is a contrast technique that provides a vast amount of information based on optical properties of the sample, such as refractive indices, isotropic or birefringent characteristics, extinction, dichroism/polychroism, opaqueness, reflected light colors, to name only a few. PLM provides insight into the sample origin, while analytical chemical microspectroscopy addresses the composition of the material. A microscopical examination may affirm morphological detail such as striations, smears, elongation of polymers, jaggedness, tears, etc. A variety of light microscopy and small particle recognition, documentation, isolation, and identification techniques are available to the particulate analyst. The PLM is used extensively in the analysis of solid-state chemical entities. Microscopic particles (1 to 10s of micrometers) in a typical environment may include any of the following: minerals, animal hairs, commercial furs, synthetic and manufactured fibers, glass, paint, thin-film polymers, metals, and metal alloys, to name only a few. Additional sources may include cosmetics paper products, plastic bags, and bottles, animal feed products, paint pigments and dyes, textiles, ceramics, human hairs and tissues, raw materials for chemical syntheses, common household chemicals, over-the-counter drugs and health food supplements, etc.

How This Benefits You

Polarized light microscopy is an extremely important and powerful tool in particle identification and characterization and should be employed by an analytical laboratory involved in addressing product contamination or product failure investigations. In combination with other analytical chemical microscopy techniques, it can lead to solving complex problems that otherwise go unrealized. Our chemical microscopy group has several scientists with extensive expertise and experience in unknown particle identification from diverse industrial chemistry and forensic science background.