Polarizing Microscope Information

Polarizing microscopes are used in a large variety of scientific studies. Some of these examples include: geology, pharmaceutics, petrology, chemistry, mineralogy, toxicology, medicine, forensics, the pulp and paper industry, to study atmospheric pollution, and in evaluating ceramics. Polarizing microscopes are different from standard high-power microscopes in that they use two polarizing filters in the light path - these filters are referred to as a polarizer and an analyzer. Crossing the filters makes it possible to examine birefringent specimens such as calcite and quartz. Polarized microscopes work with polarized light and all lenses in the microscope have to be "strain free".

Polarizing microscopes generally have two options for the light source - they will either have transmitted light only, or both reflected and transmitted light. However, it is also possible to use polarization with stereo microscopes, biological microscopes and on a LED ring light. This article explains how to add polarization to some microscope systems.

Why would you need polarization in microscopy? And how exactly does it work? Microscopy polarization is explained here.


Photographs of thin rock sections, taken with the ML9000 trinocular polarizing microscope.

Biaxial Interference figures
Limestone Image
Biaxial Interference Figures
Biotite Gneiss Image
Biotite Gneiss