Polarized Light Microscopy
Polarized light microscopy is a useful method to generate contrast in birefringent specimens and to determine qualitative and quantitative aspects of crystallographic axes present in various materials. The beautiful kaleidoscopic colors displayed by specimens under crossed polarizers arises as a result of the interference between light waves passing through the specimen. Addition of retardation plates (often termed compensators) can change the colors and hues of a material and provide information about specimen thickness and the order or birefringence. Use our interactive Java tutorials to explore how specimens are imaged with a polarized light microscope.
The virtual microscope stage is graduated in 10 degree increments. The featured tutorial simulates 360-degree rotation of birefringent samples through crossed polarizers in a microscope.
Explore the effects of polarizer rotation on specimen birefringence as observed in a polarized light microscope with a first-order retardation plate inserted.
Discover the effect of adding a 530 nanometer retardation plate between the polarizer and analyzer in a virtual polarizing microscope in this interactive java tutorial.
Learn more about the effects of polarizer rotation on specimen birefringence as observed in a polarized light microscope in this interactive tutorial.