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Chemical Microscopy at Cornell University (1202)

COURSE OUTLINE & SYLLABUS

This graduate-level applied polarized light microscopy (PLM) course covers all the necessary techniques of PLM for identifying and analyzing optical and chemical properties of small particles. In this hands-on course, students will learn how to:

•  Perform reliable PLM operations and techniques
•  Identify small particles, including organic and inorganic chemical compounds
•  Characterize fibers from animal, mineral, vegetable, and man-made origin
•  Perform microchemical and microcrystal tests
•  Practice visual thermal/fusion methods
•  Study crystals and optical crystallography

Lectures and laboratory demonstrations using video for macro- and micro-projection will cover PLM theory, techniques, and interpretation. Each student will perform applicable exercises on the polarized light microscope.

Monday
History of chemical microscopy, physical optics, reflection, refraction, refractive index, dispersion, lenses, aberrations, image formation, illumination, resolving power, micrometry, crystallization, crystal morphology

Tuesday
Single polar: crystal optics, color and pleochroism, Becke-line test, refractive indices
Microchemistry and microcrystal tests

Wednesday
Crossed polars: birefringence, retardation, identification of small single particles, synthetic and natural fibers, diverse biological particles, minerals, industrial dusts, and combustion products

Thursday
Conoscopy, interference figures, visual thermal analysis (i.e. fusion methods), polymorphism, isomorphism, liquid crystals, hot stages, composition diagrams
Accessories for the light microscope to improve resolution and contrast, and to obtain additional characterization data

Friday
Applications of chemical microscopy, digital imaging techniques, characterization and identification of knowns and unknowns,

This course is taught by Dr. Gary J. Laughlin, senior research microscopist at McCrone Research Institute, and held at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Class schedule: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Thursday and 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. Friday, Room G-19, Baker Laboratory, 259 East Avenue, Ithaca, NY 14850.  Campus map