Optical microscopy analysis forms the basis of almost any sound forensic investigation. The ability to highlight specific materials or particles of interest quickly and with minimal preparation makes optical analysis a ‘go to’ first step for a host of different applications. In addition to the ease of use and wide range of sample types that can be analyzed, optical analysis is able to achieve a wide range of magnification, from 10x-1000x or more, providing an analyst with a readily available means of analyzing a large area quickly.
Among the most common applications for this analysis are comparison of physical dimension and manufacturing techniques, detection and identification of contaminant or incident particles, and examination of multiple phases in complex mixtures or manufactured materials. At Advanced MicroAnalytical we have an array of optical microscopy techniques on hand to help assist with your investigation. Those techniques include:
Polarized Light Microscopy
- For examination of transparency or opacity, optical index of materials (birefringence) for comparative and quantitative analysis of materials ranging from biological particles, minerals, polymers, and manufactured inorganic material.
- For identification and detection of trace materials that might otherwise be difficult to identify in small amounts, either from the addition of material specific staining and marking techniques, or taking advantage of the natural fluorescent properties of the target material.
Brightfield & Darkfield Imaging
- For the examination of reflected light on the surface of samples, allowing for detection of surface contour, phases, and layers of constructed materials. Darkfield imaging highlights changes to the phases of materials, and also highlights cracks, barrier changes, and edges such as found in grain structure in metallographic samples.
Digital Image Analysis
- Special image analysis includes digital magnification, calibration, and complex dimensional analysis on images captured with our optical microscopes (grain size, layer thickness, tortuosity, surface area, etc…)
Normarski /Differential Interference Contrast Microscopy
- For highlighting surface texture and materials with different refractive indexes. DIC also allows for the examination of surface detail that is typically extremely challenging to image with traditional techniques – including thin layers of transparent material well under a micron in thickness.