Crossed polarisation of salt crystals

The following salt crystal is seen using x20 objective on LOMO Polam P-113 Polarising Microscope.

The crossed polarisation images required a lot longer exposure on my Bresser Mikrocam 5.0 MP microscope camera and this has shown up a lot of hot pixels.

So, for the first time ever, I took a dark frame and subtracted it from each image using PIPP software (Planetary Imaging Pre-Processor,

You can see the effect below – it is quite dramatic!

The following is from :

“A protein crystal, unless it is cubic, will typically be weakly birefringent under cross polarizers. Salt crystals are typically strongly birefringent under cross polarizers. Some plastic plates and materials are also birefringent so this test is more easily performed and interpreted in an all-glass environment or in a plate made from a low birefringent plastic.”

The initial photos show birefringence but I would not describe them as highly birefringent…..that is until you get to the 11x objective photos at the bottom of the post – now that is a highly birefringent salt crystal!


Crossed-polarisation image x3.5 objective (dark frame subtracted in PIPP, cropped and changed to greyscale in GIMP2). The salt crystal shows birefringence:

Bright field image, x20 objective:

Crossed-polarisation images before dark frame subtraction in PIPP, x20 objective:

Same fields of view as above but this time after dark-field subtraction using PIPP, x20 objective:

x11 objective, post subtraction dark frame with PIPP – for some reason the salt crystal on top right is particularly highly birefringent (below):

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