Crystals by Polarized Light Microscopy

Science & Art Part II

Dr. Robert Berdan
February 25, 2022 (revised March 12)

Amino acids Alanine and Glutamine by polarized light microscopy Robert Berdan ©

Amino acids Alanine and Glutamine dissolved in ethanol and water and crystallized on a microscope slide. The crystals were viewed with a polarizing microscope with the addition of a full wave retardation plate.

     Crystals photographed with a polarizing microscope can form beautiful abstract images which attracts those that are curious or those that want to explore art and a means of expression. Taking photographs and using a microscope can be learned in a short time. Unlike a telescope, a microscope can be used to explore nature in the comfort of your home in all seasons. The cost of a good entry level microscope is about $500 to $1500 though used ones can be found for less. You don't need to be a scientist to take images of crystals - just a microscope, willingness to learn and a passion to discover and explore the micro-world. I particularly like to experiment with crystals during the winter months in Canada because my favourite ponds are frozen making it difficult to collect live protists.  

Alanine and Glutamine 40X as viewed in a polarizing microscope with a wave plate by Robert Berdan ©

Alanine and Glutamine 40X as viewed in a polarizing microscope with a wave plate.

    Images of crystals taken with a microscope are a combination of both science and art (Davidson and Rill).  The process starts by making microscopic crystals using household chemicals, vitamins and various medicines. The crystals can be made by melting the chemicals on a slide or allowing them to dry from a solution onto a microscope slide (see my previous article). The slides are then examined with a microscope that uses two linear polarizing filters. Because some substances form very thin crystals another filter is often required that is placed between the polarizing filters called a wave or retardation plate which can be purchased or made for free from some plastic package wraps, plastic CD covers, mica and even Scotch tape.  Low cost commercial wave plates (retarder film full wave) can also be purchased from E-bay for about $25 and Scientific supply stores like Edmund Optics. Commercial wave plates in holders start at about $125 and go up to about $500.

Crystals of amino acids in polarized light by Robert Berdan ©

A) Crystals of amino acids in polarized light alone. Because the crystals are very thin they don't show any colours until a wave plate is added (B,C and D). Rotating the polarizers and/or wave plate results in colour changes in the crystals when viewed with the microscope. 100X.

crystals of amino acids after rotating the wave plate viewed by polarizing microscopy by Robert Berdan ©

Shown above are crystals of amino acids after rotating the wave plate resulting in a variety of different colours from very bright to more subdued tones 40X.

Alanine and Glutamine 40X as viewed in a polarizing microscope with a wave plate by Robert Berdan ©
Alanine and Glutamine 40X as viewed in a polarizing microscope with a wave plate

     The micro crystals form a wide variety of complex shapes and patterns that may resemble flowers and plants. By rotating the filters you can produce an infinite variety of colours in the crystals to suit a specific decor or brand.  

     Many people like to express themselves through some form of artistic expression and in a sense we all like to play and art gives us an opportunity to produce something that we can share with others. Creating art can reduce stress and bring us pleasure. Art can help us develop a sense of self and a belief that we can enjoy our lives and communicate with others. There are many ways to express ourselves e.g. through writing, music, painting, and photography being some of the ways. I like to photograph all forms of nature from the Aurora Borealis to micro-organisms. Photographing crystals is one of my passions and they display the most beautiful colours I have seen. For those that prefer to spend time outside in winter a microscope can also be used to photograph snow-flakes - one of these days I have try photographing them with polarized light.

lanine and Glutamine 40X as viewed in a polarizing microscope with a wave plate by Robert Berdan ©

   Alanine and Glutamine 40X as viewed in a polarizing microscope with a wave plate

     A microscope can even be enjoyed by children 10 years and older (I provide training in my home for anyone interested). Creating micro-crystals also can be learned quickly but it involves a good deal of trial and error and takes time to master. First you need to find the right chemicals, then you need to explore different methods to make the crystals on microscope slides. Once you make the crystals it is a matter of examining and photographing them. Getting good photographs is challenging, but even kids can do this by using their cell phone cameras. The most challenging part of photographing crystals from my perspective is finding appealing compositions which can involve a lot of searching. As a hobby crystal photography can be enjoyed well into our golden years. I started photographing crystals in 1977 as a teenager and I still find it engaging. 

Alanine and Glutamine viewed through the microscope using only polarizers by Robert Berdan ©

Alanine and Glutamine viewed through the microscope using only polarizers. Some crystals will exhibit a wide variety of colours when only polarizers are used. 40X.


    Here I show some of my new crystal images taken with a polarizing microscope during February of 2022 during the COVID pandemic. At the end of the article I provide links and resources where you can learn more for those interested. I also have several articles on this web site just about crystals in polarized light I hope you might read. My most recent experiments have involved testing different solvents such as alcohols, and acetone, and water-alcohol mixtures. I dry the solvents at room temperature and on a hot plate. My goal is to develop a systematic approach to studying crystal and share my methods to make the formation of crystals more consistent based on the chemistry of the solute and its’ solubility in different solutions. Some substances are complex mixtures making it difficult to discover what might be a good solvent for making crystals so trial and error is an essential part of the process. The good news is that information about solvents and chemicals is widely available on the web. If you want to know the solubility of a substance or its melting point search Google, or visit PubChem.

Golden flower abstract - Alanine and Glutamine 40X polarizing microscope with wave plate by Robert Berdan ©

Golden flowers abstract - Alanine and Glutamine 40X polarizing microscope with wave plate.

     More and more blogs and science journals are available for those willing to spend time to read them (see my references for links to some of them).  Not everybody that makes crystals for photo-micrography shares their methods which is unfortunate, the good news is that there are many folks that will. In my previous articles I describe basic methods for making crystals for photomicrography including 1) melt the substance on a slide 2) dissolve the substance and allow it to dry and crystallize 3) freeze the substance dissolved in a liquid  4) Supersaturate the solution (boiling off the water)  5) adding seeds and 6) the vapour diffusion (R. Berdan 2019). Melting and allowing solutions to dry at room temperature after heating are the two most popular methods.

Amino acid Alanine and Glutamine turn white when I rotated the polarizers  by Robert Berdan ©

Amino acid Alanine and Glutamine turn white when I rotated the polarizers (also used a wave plate) 40X.

Alanine and Glutamine in water and ethanol 1:4 via polarized light and a wave plate by Robert Berdan ©

Alanine and Glutamine in water and ethanol 1:4 via polarized light and a wave plate.


Callus Remover, Compound W, Broadacid and ABE

      Of all the substances I have tried callus remover and compound W are the easiest to make crystals. Making birefringent crystals from callus remover was inspired by Loes Modderman and Richard Howey - see references below.

Callus remover (Lifebrand) with added methanol, polarizing microscope and a wave plate by Robert Berdan ©

Callus remover (Lifebrand) with added methanol, polarizing microscope and a wave plate. Callus remover often formed long rope-like structures with feathery edges.

     To make crystals from callus remover or compound W put a drop of fluid on a microscope slide then spread it very thinly. Using the brush or applicator does not make a thin enough film. Place a second glass slide on top of the drop and then slide it off to form a thin film on both slides (suggested to me by Loes Modderman).  Allow the slides to dry fluid side up and then examine them about 1 minute later. Alternatively you can add a drop or two of alcohol (Isopropyl, methanol, or ethanol) mix and spread the fluid. Acetone also works well to make a thin film. The solutions dry very quickly at room temperature. You can also explore the effect of heating the slide at low temperature. Once a white film of crystals forms examine the slide with a microscope with polarizing filters and a wave plate. If the crystals are too thick you will see rope-like crystals with a brown tinge. As the layer becomes thinner you will begin to see a wide variety of colours forming feather-like and hair-like crystals if you also use a wave plate (see above and below).

Callus remover (Lifebrand) with added Methanol, polarizing microscope and a wave plate. by Robert Berdan ©

Callus remover (Lifebrand) with added Methanol, polarizing microscope and a wave plate. Fan-like structures were common with all the different alcohols I used to dilute and thin the callus remover. 40X

Callus remover (Lifebrand) diluted with 99% isopropyl alcohol. 40X  Polarized light microscopy by Robert Berdan ©

Callus remover (Lifebrand) diluted with 99% isopropyl alcohol. 40X

Callus remover  by polarized light microscopy Robert Berdan ©

Callus remover diluted with methanol and viewed by polarized light microscopy and wave plate. 40X

Compound W polarized light microscopy by Robert Berdan ©

Compound W with acetone added - polarized light microscopy 100X. Note the slightly grainy appearance of the image.


     I viewed some beautiful pictures by Loes Moddernman on her Facebook site.  She told me that one callus remover ABE brand from a Polish web site, (ABE might stand for – acetone, butanol and ethanol?) resulted in better crystals than other types of callus remover she has tried. Regular callus remover from LifeBrand works well in my experience, but it doesn’t provide the interesting crystal images that Loes Modderman achieves. On March 11, I received some Polish ABE callus remover and show some of my crystal images further below on this page.

Callus remover mixed with acetone 40X polarized light and wave plate Robert Berdan ©

Callus remover mixed with acetone 40X polarized light and wave plate.

      The active ingredients of ABE callus remover include:  Lactic acid 11%, Salicyclic acid 9% and 80% mix of turpentine, castor oil, sublimated iodine, nitrocellulose and ethyl acetate. I have tried Salicylic acid (in ethanol) and Lactic acid solution alone and the two products combined. Salicyclic acid produces crystals that are nice but not overly interesting. The lactic acid doesn’t produce any crystals in my hands. While other callus removers also include some of these components it is likely that small chemical differences influence the shapes and patterns of crystals produced. Urea is sometimes a component of callus remover and Urea can produce beautiful crystals when dissolved in ethanol by itself. Compound W smells similar to callus remover (probably the Salicyclic acid) and produces similar looking crystals in my experience. The bottom line is that it is likely that any type of callus remover and compound W will allow you to see images like those that I show in this article. 

Callus remover mixed with Acetone 40X polarized light microscopy and wave plate by Robert Berdan ©

Callus remover mixed with Acetone 40X polarized light microscopy and wave plate.

Callus remover crystals in polarized light by Robert Berdan ©

Callus remover mixed with acetone 25X polarized light microscopy with a wave plate.

Callus remover mixed with acetone 25X polarized light microscopy with a wave plate

Broadacid is similar to compound W and it is from Poland, though there is a source in the US where you can purchase it online (see link below in references). By smearing a very thin solution or diluting it in acetone it offers beautiful crystals. I am showing just a few of the photos I made below and I will add a few pictures of ABE callus remover from Poland when I receive it.

Broadacid by polarized light microscopy and wave plate Robert Berdan ©

Broadacid by polarized light microscopy and wave plate - 50X.

Broadacid by polarized light microscopy 100X - reminds me of fiddleheads on ferns Robert Berdan ©

Broadacid by polarized light microscopy 100X - reminds me of fiddleheads on ferns 100X

Borad acid callus remover crystals by polarized light microscopy Robert Berdan ©

Four images of Broad acid in polarized light and polarized light with a wave plate.

Broadacid crystals by polarized light microscopy 100X  Robert Berdan ©

Broadacid crystals by polarized light microscopy 100X

 

ABE Callus Remover with Lactic acid 11%, Salicyclic acid 9%

     Loes Modderman first told me about ABE callus remover and she rightly said it was better than any other callus remover she tried for making crystals. The product is made in Poland and can be ordered online (see links below). March 1, 2022, I ordered and recieved 3 bottles 10 days later. I immediately put some fluid on a microscope slide, placed a second slide on top to flatten the solution and then slide the top slide off to form a thin film on the top of each slide. I allowed the crystals to form by air drying at room temperature. They form beautiful crystals in about 5 minutes. This procedure resulted in thin layers with a wide variety of crystals. My favourite crytals were those that form flower-like abstracts resembling water-colour paintings. I also tried heating the slides on a hot plate, but this often resulted in thin fibrous crystals. I also added a drop or two of acetone to thin the ABE solution and spread it with a slide or razor blade into a thin film. These crystals were also nice. Finally, I tried to see if cooling the slides in a fridge while drying would affect the crystals. I tended to see more nautilus shell like shapes (see below). Overall drying the slides at room temperature produced a variety of crytals patterns that were good for photography. Sometimes the crytals formed large ring patterns and in polarized light without a wave plate the crystals had a blue-tinge. Using a full wave plate I was able to obtain a wide variety of different colours. Below are a few of my favorite images. These images were taken with an Zeiss Axiophot polarizing microscope and a Nikon D800 camera body with Digicam control (free) software.

ABE Water colour-like Crystals

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid wpolarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X abstract art Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid with polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X abstract art Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X abstract art Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X

actic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X  Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X

Lactic acid and Salicyclic ccid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X

ABE Crystal-like Images

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy drived in the fridge - note the natilus shell form 100X Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy air dried in the fridge - note the natilus shell form 100X

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy 100X Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy 100X

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate dried in the fridge 100X Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate dried in the fridge, note the nautilus shell form on the left 100X

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X  Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy with wave plate 100X

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid polarized light microscopy 100X Robert Berdan ©

Lactic acid and Salicyclic acid viewed by polarized light microscopy 100X (no wave plate)

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Amino Acids Glutamine and Alanine


     Last Christmas I began to experiment with amino acids. Initially I found it difficult to get some amino acids to crystallize and form curved shaped crystals (R. Berdan 2021). Single amino acids can sometimes produce interesting crystals when dissolved in ethanol or ethanol and water. But when two amino acids (Glutamine and Alanine) are mixed together in ethanol: water 1:1 they produce flower-like crystals. I find amino acids very attractive because the crystals have numerous curves that form leaf-like and flower-like shapes. Sometimes they can resemble the sun with rays pouring out. Read below to learn how to coax the amino acids to form crystal sheets. Others have done this before me, but unfortunately none that I contacted was willing to share their methods.

Alanine and Glutamine crystals by polarized light microscopy Robert Berdan ©

Alanine and Glutamine dissolved in water and ethanol 40X polarized light microscopy and wave plate.

   I wanted to know what happens to the amino acids if I changed the ratio of water to alcohol as a solvent.  Recently I increased the amount of alcohol and tried a mixture of water: alcohol 1:4 – this seemed to result in crystals (Alanine and Glutamine) that formed more quickly and sometimes had more swirls. When I increased the amount of water, I saw fewer curved crystals or none at all. The best solvent for amino acids was 95% ethanol mixed with water. I purchased the ethanol from the liquor store, a brand called Everclear which is also used as a household "food-grade" cleaning, disinfecting, or stove fuel alcohol because its fumes and odor are less offensive than isopropyl, rubbing, and denatured alcohol which are toxic to breathe or drink.

Alanine and Glutamine  crystals in polarized light by Robert Berdan ©

Alanine and Glutamine (water and ethanol 4: 1) crystals 40X polarized light and wave plate. These sharp edged crystals are more typically found with other substances and shows how small changes in the solvent can affect the shape of the crystals.

     Anyone that has made crystals for polarized light microscopy soon discovers that the solvent can make a big difference. I recommend first trying water (deionized, distilled or tap) and researching the substances solubility in other substances like alcohols and organic solvents. You can dry the solvent quickly by heating or slowly by drying at room temperature. I generally do not cool the slides in the fridge but I have frozen some solutions like beer to get them to crystallize. Even water viewed after freezing becomes birefringent and exhibits several colours (R. Berdan 2019). Often substances dried more slowly result in larger crystals. Sometimes crystals only form after allowing them to dry overnight and in the case of beer sometimes crystals take weeks to form. Most times heating the solvent on a slide using a hot plate results in faster crystallization. Alcohols and acetone dries much faster than water. You can also promote crystal formation by adding seed crystals, a strand of hair, or scratch the glass slide with diamond pencil. Seeds promote the formation of nucleation sites that promote crystal formation. Dirt, sand and dust on the slide, even a black magic marker labelling on the slide can act as seeds to promote crystal formation. Read more about seed crystals here.

Hair seed showing growth of Vitamin C crystals in polarized light Robert Berdan ©

Above is a single strand of hair (one of my eyelashes) used to seed crystals of Vitamin C - polarized light microscopy 100X.

Alanine and Glutamine flower-like pattern 40X Polarized light and a wave plate Robert Berdan

Alanine and Glutamine flower-like pattern 40X Polarized light and a wave plate.

     My source of my amino acids is from a nutrition store (Popeye’s) or the Medicine shop in Calgary. Basically the higher the purity of substance the more likely you will get good crystals. Once you get amino acid crystals to form which usually requires heating the solution for about minute on the slide, then cooling the slide for a minute and then reheating the slide a second time and you will see numerous crystals form. I believe the first heating process creates seed crystals around the edge of the solutions which then stimulate the formation of more crystals upon second heating.  When everything works you can spend hours on a single slide and take hundreds of images.  My advice is to slow down, take notes and carefully explore each slide. Also freshly made slides are usually better than older slides. You can store the slides for months in a slide storage box, but with age the crystals dry and form cracks. Also dust in the air can land on the slides so I recommend blowing the top of the slide with a gentle puff of air before photographing them. I have kept slides for years without coverslips, but they deteriorate with time so I generally only keep them for a for a few months and try to photograph crystals shortly after making them. Coverslips are generally not required as most of the crystals are photographed using 2.5, 4, 10 and sometimes a 20X Plan Achromat objectives. Plan Achromat objectives that offer a flat field are best for photography. You can use any type of objectives (e.g. phase contrast) but stress free polarizing objectives provide the best results and blackest backgrounds. For larger images of the crystals try making panoramas - e.g. see below.

Alanine and Glutamine crystals - a panoram by Robert Berdan ©

Alanine and Glutamine crystals - a panorama of 11 images stitched together in Photoshop. 40X


     Before you test chemicals mixtures I recommend testing the individual chemicals and record their crystal patterns. Then mix them to see how they form patterns. When I mixed Taurine to Alanine and Glutamine it altered the crystal patterns and produced twirls. Eventually I hope to try all the amino acids but the number of possible combinations is huge. I also recommend reading the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) before working with any chemical so you are aware of any potential dangers they might have (MSDS sheets are readily available online).

 

Medicines and Vitamins

     Vitamin C easily dissolves in water or water and alcohol and is my second favourite substance to make crystals - see my article  (R. Berdan 2019 to see Vitamin C crystals). A solution of Vitamin C mixed in water and alcohol is dried on a microscope slide. You can heat the slide or allow the slide to dry overnight which often results in larger crystals. Some of the crystals can be 1 mm or larger. They often form spheres with a black cross called a Maltese cross which represents regions where the crystal is transparent and shows the black background of polarized light.

Tylenol

     Some medicines come in capsules that can be opened and the powder poured out (.e.g. Alpha-lipoic acid). Others come as tablets and some with sugar coated capsules on the outside. Tylenol has a red sugar coating around the medicine, though you can purchase the chemical by itself at some medicine shops. I put a couple of Tylenol capsules in a Mortar and Pestle (available on Amazon) and crushed the tablets. I use tweezers to remove the large pieces of sugar coating. I dissolve the drug in ethanol and dried them on a slide. This technique works with a variety of medicines and a mortar and pestle is a handy tool to own if you explore crystals with a microscope. They were even used in Stone Age times to prepared ingredients and medicines.

Tylenol crystal heart shapped by polarized light microscopy by Robert Berdan ©

Tylenol dissolved in acetone, heated briefly produced many small crystals including this heart shaped crystal. Polarized light microscopy 100X.

Tylenol crystals in polarized light microscopy by Robert Berdan ©

Tylenol in Ethanol also produced star shaped crystals 100X polarized light and wave plate.

Manganese Chloride dissolved in Isopropyl alcohol (99%) Polarized light microscopy and wave plate. 100X by Robert Berdan © Manganese chloride dissolved in Isopropyl alcohol (99%) Polarized light microscopy and wave plate. 100X. Dr. R. Howey suggested I try this chemical.

Alpha-Lipoic acid crystals by polarized light microscopy by Robert Berdan ©

Alpha-Lipoic acid is an antioxidant and used by patients with Diabetes to reduce pain caused by neuropathy. The solvent was acetone, 50X polarized light and a wave plate.

     There are lots of vitamins and supplements you can try to make crystals.  I sometimes look at web sites by other crystal photomicrographers to see what chemicals they have used successfully. The crystals you get may or may not look like mine or those of others depending on how they are created. Variations in crystal preparations and individual "seeing" make it unlikely that two different people will compose similar images. For this reason I have no qualms about sharing my methods. Also you may see that some of those people that show their crystal images are scientists and it may seem that you need some specialized knowledge to take these pictures. That is simply not true.  Scientists may have access or some training with microscopes, but anyone can buy a microscope and have it modified to use polarized light and wave plates -  I did this in my garage laboratory when I was a teenager see ref by Walker (1977). For access to chemicals start with your grocery store, pharmacy, health food store, medicine shop or hardware store. Crystals are not the only thing that look beautiful in a polarizing microscope -  examine wood sections, plants, hair and fur, small insects and starch grains and you will discover an amazing and colourful world around you.

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     Below are a few more of the images I took in February, 2022 - it's easy to take hundreds of images in a single day.

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in Ethanol and water, 40X Polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate. Robert Berdan ©

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in ethanol and water, 40X Polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate.

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in Ethanol and water, 40X Polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate. Robert Berdan ©

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in ethanol and water, 40X polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate.

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in Ethanol and water, 40X Polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate. Robert Berdan ©

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in ethanol and water, 40X polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate.

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in Ethanol and water, 40X Polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate. Robert Berdan ©

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in ethanol and water, 40X polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate. Image might make a nice wall paper pattern and reminds me of autumn leaves.

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in ethanol and water by Robert Berdan ©

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in ethanol and water, 40X polarized light microscopy wit a full wave plate.

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in Ethanol and water, 40X Polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate. Robert Berdan ©

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in ethanol and water, 40X polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate.

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in Ethanol and water, 40X Polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate. Robert Berdan ©

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in ethanol and water, 40X polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate.

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in Ethanol and water, 40X Polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate. Robert Berdan ©

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in ethanol and water, 40X polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate.

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in Ethanol and water, 40X Polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate Robert Berdan ©

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in ethanol and water, 40X polarized light microscopy wit a full wave plate.

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in Ethanol and water, 40X Polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate. Robert Berdan ©

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in ethanol and water, 40X polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate.

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in Ethanol and water, 40X Polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate. Robert Berdan ©

Crystals of Alanine and Glutamine in ethanol and water, 40X polarized light microscopy with a full wave plate.

 

Interested in Making or Purchasing Crystal Images as Art?

     All of of my images can be purchased for personal or commercial use from 5 x 7.5 inches to 24 x 36 inches at 300 dpi (dots per inch) or even larger - see my price list for personal use. For commercial use the price depends on the size of the image, whether you need exclusive rights and what the image will be used for. I offer photomicrography services and custom images of drinks, liquor, medicine etc – also see my custom photomicrography services at Science & Art. If you use my free web images I appreciate a link back to this web site. If you would like to learn to make crystals and photograph them with a microscope I provide one day workshops in Calgary (sorry I don't provide online training). In my home laboratory I can provide everything you need and can help you purchase a microscope and other equipment if you like. I usually have a few refurbished microscopes for sale on Kijjii. In the workshop you will learn to make various crystals and take pictures of them as I guide you- contact me if interested.

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References

R. Berdan (2021) Birefringence using a Motic Polarizing Microscope and the Michel-Lévy Chart (Part I) Motic Microscopy. https://moticmicroscopes.com/blogs/articles/birefringence-using-a-motic-polarizing-microscope

R. Berdan (2021) Motic polarizing microscope to analyze birefringence with fixed retardation plates and variable compensators Part II. https://moticmicroscopes.com/blogs/articles/birefringence-using-a-motic-polarizing-microscope-part-two

R. Berdan (2021) Polarization Microscopy The Motic BA310 Polarizing Microscope a Review.
https://www.canadiannaturephotographer.com/MoticBA310Pol_microscope.html

R. Berdan (2021) Curved Crystals viewed by Polarized Light Microscopy Amino acids, Vitamin C, Menthol & Caffeine. https://www.canadiannaturephotographer.com/crazy_crystals.html

R. Berdan (2017) The Art & Science of Photomicrography with Polarized Light
https://www.canadiannaturephotographer.com/art-and-science-photomicrography-polarized-light.html

R. Berdan (2019) Crystals Photographed with Polarization Microscopy: Water, Beer, Caffeine, Vitamins, Amino Acids and Human Tears. https://www.canadiannaturephotographer.com/crystals_polarizedlight.html

R. Berdan (2021) The Microscopic structure of Starch grains – Food microscopy Part I https://moticmicroscopes.com/blogs/articles/food-microscopy-starch-grains


Polarization Reference Books and Papers

J. G. Delly (2017) Essentials of Polarized Light Microscopy and Ancillary Techniques - Hooke College of Applied Sciences. Westmont, Illinois.  Available on McCrones web site & Amazon. Expensive, but the best book I have found on polarized light microscopy.

J. Walker (1977) The Amateur Scientist - Studying polarized light with quarter-wave and half-wave plates of one's own making. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-amateur-scientist-1977-12/ You can purchase the PDF from their web site.

 

Selected Web sites and articles about Photomicrography of Crystals

Michael W. Davidson and Randolph. L. Rill - Photomicrography: Common Ground for Science and Art - PDF.

Michael W. Davidson (2016) A Success in Microsopes and Neckwear, Dies at 65

HuffPost (2017) How Researcher Michael Davidson Discovered the Beauty of Alcohol

Loes Modderman - Face book site with lots of news and Loes will answer your questions

Amateur Microscopy - 35.8 K members - Facebook

Loes Modderman (2019) Microcrystals and how to grow them, update - PDF

Loes Modderman (2001)- Micro-crystals in Polarized Light, and How to Grow Them

Loes Modderman - web site sienceart.nl

David Walker (2018) - Notes on the birefringence of of ice...

Richard L. Howey (2019) - Album of Crystals in Polarized Light - Part 1

Richard L. Howey (2014) - A tribute to Brian Johnston

Richard L. Howey (2013) - A Lazy summer gallery of crystals - Micscape

Richard L. Howey (2008) - A crystalline Herbal and Bestiary: A Journey to an Alien World.

Richard L. Howey (2006) - A Micro-Rothko Gallery of Crystals

Richard L. Howey (2006) How to Milk a Weed: Part II Looking at Crystals in Plant Juices

Richard L. Howey (2003) Micro-Art Gallery #1: Crystals

Richard L. Howey (2002) Crystals and Polarization: A Few Additional Thoughts

ABE callus remover - available from Onebuy.com

Brodacid - recommended to me by Ivan Bub (favorite of L. Modderman) - Proton nutrition

 

Selected You tube Videos

Manfred P. Kage (1935-2019) - Microscopy Artist

Wayne Schmidt (2015) How to Photograph Crystals with Polarized Light

Microbehunter (2018) DIY polarized light microscopy of Vitamin C Crystals

Robert Berdan (2021) Movies of Growing Crystals by Polarized Light Microscopy

DP Review (2020) DIY Photo Project: Create beautiful abstract photos with polarized crystals

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Authors Biography & Contact Information


Portrait of Dr. Robert C. Berdan by Sharif Galal ©

Bio: Robert Berdan is a professional nature photographer living in Calgary, AB specializing in nature, wildlife and science photography. Robert retired from Cell\Neurobiology research to pursue photography full time many years ago. Robert offers photo guiding and private instruction in all aspects of nature photography, Adobe Photoshop training, photomicrography and macro-photography. Portrait of Robert by Dr. Sharif Galal showing some examples of Robert's science research in the background and Robert's first pro-microscope - Olympus E.

Email at: rberdan@scienceandart.org 
Web sites: www.canadiannaturephotographer.com 
             
     www.scienceandart.org
Phone: MST 9 am -7 pm (403) 247-2457.