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Electron Microscopy Sciences

EMS Microscopy Academy Applications

Workshop Information

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arrow13Pharmaceutical Microscopy Workshop: Techniques

This course is designed to teach the basic techniques and operations of pharmaceutical microscopy.

Examples of the Microscopy of Pharmaceuticals

Carbamazepine Form 3 twinned crystals by optical microscopy.
Carbamazepine Form 3 twinned crystals by SEM. Optical microscopy and SEM allow for unique views of crystals.

Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) fusion preparation in crossed polars. Heated beyond melting point and then allowed to cool. Illustrates color progression of birefringent crystals.
Phenacetin sublimate, crossed polars with lambda waveplate. Shows utility of thermal microscopy in solid-state analysis.

Energy dispersive x-ray spectrum of a naproxen sodium tablet cross-section.
Chemical Map (sodium and oxygen) of naproxen sodium tablet cross section overlaid on backscatter electron image.

Image analysis of glass beads on optical microscope. Illustrates some of the operations used for particle size and shape analysis.
Polypropylene fibers under crossed polars on optical microscope. Such fibers are a common contaminant in pharmaceutical products.


The EMS Microscopy Academy
Located in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, the Academy provides electron microscopy classes, workshops and training sessions for all fields of microscopy, including materials science and biological science.

Targeted Participants

This course covers the basic microscopy techniques used in pharmaceutical development and is designed for the novice or beginner.

Scope of Class

Microscopy has a place in nearly all solid-state studies and is often a critical component to solving drug development issues.

For the optimum use of microscopy, one needs both good instrumentation and a skilled microscopist. This course is designed to teach the basic techniques and operations of pharmaceutical microscopy.  We assume no prior knowledge of microscopy but a basic knowledge of solid-state pharmaceutical analysis


Lecture, demonstration and hands-on practice, as well as round table table tips and tricks discussion. Participants are encouraged to bring their own samples, if possible.

Main Curriculum

Use of the following techniques in solid-state analysis, particle shape and size studies, contaminant identification, and glass corrosion (delamination) assessments:

  • Stereomicroscopy
  • Polarized light microscopy
  • Thermal microscopy
  • Scanning electron microscope and EDS (energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy)
  • IR and Raman microspectroscopy
  • Automated image analysis

Instruments Available

Polarizing Light Microscope Hitachi S3500 SEM Image Analysis Software
Linkam Thermal Microscope Bruker Esprit (SDD) IR and Raman Microscopes


Robert Carlton
Robert worked for nearly 40 years in the research and development of fiberglass insulation, orthopedics, and pharmaceuticals. His specialty is solid-state analysis with a particular interest in microscopy. Robert retired from full-time employment in early 2016. He is now teaching microscopy and consulting on solid-state analysis in pharmaceutical development. Robert's education is in chemistry, with a Ph.D. from Lehigh University. He has taken numerous courses at McCrone Research Institute on microscopy from Skip Palenik and Walter McCrone. Robert worked for pharmaceutical companies Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (Aventis, Sanofi), Elan (Nanocrystal), and GlaxoSmithKline in microscopy and solid-state analysis for 24 years. He published a book on Pharmaceutical Microscopy in 2011 with Springer.

Michael Kostrna
Michael was the program director of the Electron Microscopy Technician program at Madison Area Technical College and has more than 35 years in EM technical education and research experience. He has been training EM students for 29 years and has developed curricula and lab exercises for TEM, SEM, OLM, lab safety, introductory and advanced biological EM, EM, maintenance, and x-Ray microanalysis. He has worked with companies such as SC Johnson Polymer, Dow Chemicals, Io Genetics, Virent Technologies, ABS Global, NanoOnocology, and Microscopy Innovations, and in the process gained insight to the various applications of EM.

Al Coritz
Al has been working in the Electron Microscopy field for 38 years, beginning at the Yale School of Medicine and ending up on the commercial side with several key EM companies. His specialty is Cryo-techniques and Thin Film Technology: i.e. Freeze Fracture/Rotary Shadowing, High Pressure Freezing, and more. He is currently with Electron Microscopy Sciences where he has been the Technical Director for over 20 years.

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