Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)

In this polarized light microscopy (PLM) training course, students learn the most direct and powerful application of polarized light to characterize and identify microscopic particles.

Session 1 – Introduction
Provides a brief introduction to the course and the learning objectives.
Instructor Tom Van Howe explains the Polarized Light Microscope (PLM) course outline and objectives.
Video Length - 00:06:05

Session 2 – Polarized Light Microscope, Components and Functions
Instructor Tom Van Howe introduces the components of a polarizing light microscope and explains their functions.
Video Length - 00:34:53
Reading - Microscope Components
Quiz – Identify the Microscope’s Components

Session 3 – Microscope Alignment and Maintenance
Instructor Tom Van Howe explains the steps for proper alignment of a polarizing light microscope to achieve Kohler illumination. Ongoing maintenance and qualification of the microscope is also discussed. Video Length - 00:38:39
Reading 1 – Polarized Light Microscope Alignment
Reading 2 – Setting Up Köhler Illumination
Quiz – Polarized Light Microscope

Session 4 – Micrometry
Instructor Tom Van Howe explains how to make measurements and determine particle sizes use a polarizing light microscope.
Video Length - 00:28:47
Reading – Reticle Calibration Worksheet
Quiz - Micrometry

Session 5 – Plane Polarized Light Observations – Refractive Index and Pleochroism
Instructor Tom Van Howe explains light and how to make the refractive index and pleochroism observations of particles using plane polarized light.
Video Length - 01:37:10
Reading 1 – Particle Characteristics
Reading 2 – Determining Refractive Index
Reading 3 – Refractive Index, Becke Lines
Quiz – Refractive Index

Session 6 – Introduction to Optical Crystallography
Instructor Tom Van Howe introduces crystal systems and optical crystallography.
Video Length - 00:31:36
Reading 1 – What is a Crystal?
Reading 2 – Passage of Light Through Crystals
Reading 3 – Introduction to Crystal Lattice Systems
Quiz – Optical Crystallography

Session 7 – Crossed Polarized Light Observations, Isotropy and Birefringence
Instructor Tom Van Howe explains how to use the analyzer to make isotropy and birefringence observations of particles using crossed polarized light.
Video Length - 01:29:20
Reading - Crossed Polarized Light Observations
Resource – Michel Levy Chart
Quiz – Isotropy and Birefringence

Session 8 – Crossed Polarized Light Observations, Sign of Elongation
Instructor Tom Van Howe explains how to use the analyzer and compensator to make sign of elongation observations of fibers and particles using crossed polarized light.
Video Length - 00:40:14
Reading – Sign of Elongation
Quiz – Sign of Elongation

Session 9 – Crossed Polarized Light Observations, Extinction Characteristics
Instructor Tom Van Howe explains how to use the polarized light microscope to examine extinction characteristics.
Video Length - 00:37:07
Reading – Extinction Characteristics
Quiz – Extinction Characteristics

Session 10 – Conoscopy and Interference Figures
Instructor Tom Van Howe explains conoscopy and how to view interference figures.
Video Length - 00:53:47
Reading – Microscope Setup for Interference Figures
Quiz – Conoscopy and Interference Figures

Session 11 – Course Summary
Instructor Tom Van Howe provides a brief summary of all that you have learned
Additional Learning Resources:
Microscope Setup for Polarized Light Microscopy Analysis
Sample Evaluation Worksheet
General Microscope Cleaning
Common Particle Morphology Terms
Supplemental Reading

Tom Vanhowe

Thomas G. Van Howe, Jr.

Research Microscopist, McCrone Associates

Tom joined McCrone Associates in 2007 bringing with him fourteen years of quality assurance, microbiology, microscopy, and industrial hygiene experience. For seven years Tom served as McCrone Associates’ quality manager and was instrumental in the development of the Quality Management System, maintaining regulatory compliance, and achieving ISO 17025:2005 accreditation. In 2014, Tom joined the light microscopy group as a research microscopist and project leader. His microscopy specializations are in phase contrast microscopy, PLM, TEM, and EDS. Prior to joining McCrone Associates, Tom conducted quantitative soil and water analyses for five years in the Wet Chemistry and Microbiology Department of a government environmental laboratory and enjoyed nine years as the technical manager for an industrial hygiene and asbestos firm. He has extensive experience with water and soil examination, indoor air quality studies, fiber identification, construction materials examination, dust, mold spore, and pollen identification, asbestos analyses, and unknown particulate identification.

B.S., Biology, Millikin University, Decatur, IL, 1993


Online Access - 6 Months $795.00