What Is a Polarizing Microscope?


Developed in the late nineteenth century, the polarizing microscope was made for studying rocks and minerals. Polarizing microscopes may also be used in the biology and medical fields. These specific types of microscopes can cost $1,000 or more.


  • Polarizing microscopes are also known as petrographic microscopes. These microscopes depend on polarized light for studying objects, rather than natural lighting or the typical artificial light. Most polarizing microscopes resemble optical microscopes. The basic structure of an optical microscope consists of an eyepiece, arm, clip, base, mirror, etc. The polarizing microscope has the additional feature of a polarizing lens.


  • The polarizing microscope is used for studying rocks and minerals. It is also used for identifying specimen in the biology and medical fields. The microscope helps identify objects with it's polarized light which vibrates in only one direction.


  • Polarizing microscopes were developed in the late 19th century. These microscopes have become very important tools for identifying structures of not only rocks and minerals but specimens in several other scientific fields.


  • There are several features that contribute to the polarizing microscope. Each piece of the microscope has its own importance. The main features are the parts of the microscope in which the light travels. When the light is captured, it is refracted by a small angled mirror, sent through the polarizing lens and then through the iris diaphragm and the condenser. When the light reaches the rotators (where the slides are), the viewer is able to see parts of objects that you normally wouldn't see with a regular microscope.

Polarized Light Explained

  • Polarized light, or light polarization, is when light waves depict the direction of their fluctuation. A polarized light will only vibrate in one direction. Many animals can perceive polarized light easier than the naked human eyes can.


  • The cost of a polarizing microscopes depends on shape, structure and brand. According to Microscope.com, a polarizing trinocular compound microscope can cost up to $2,195, while a transmitted light polarizing microscope can cost up to $5,025.

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  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Matthew Hine
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