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Electron Microscopy Sciences

EMS Microscopy Academy Applications

Workshop Information

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arrow13Pharmaceutical Microscopy Workshop

This workshop is designed to introduce the major applications of microscopy in pharmaceutical development: polymorphism, particle size analysis, contaminant identification, and glass corrosion.

Examples of the Microscopy of Pharmaceuticals

PLM image of anthroquinone cooled after thermal microscopy. Crossed polars with lambda waveplate.
Uniaxial interference pattern used to determine optical crystallographic properties of polymorphs.

SEM image of PTFE tape. PTFE is used in pharmaceutical manufacturing and is a source of contamination.
Energy dispersive x-ray chemical map of a sectioned multivitamin tablet.

Fluorescence microscopy image of a sectioned multivitamin tablet. Different imaging techniques can be correlated to better understand drug performance.
Differential interference contrast (DIC) image of liquid drops on interior of parenteral glass vial. DIC is used to examine parenteral glass vials.

SEM image of primary drug particle. Particle morphology can help understand pharmaceutical performance in some dosage forms.
SEM image of interior glass surface showing evidence of parenteral glass vial corrosion (delamination).

Targeted Participants

This course is intended for beginning and intermediate level analysts who need to gain familiarity and skill in the use of microscopy as applied to pharmaceutical development.

Scope of Class

This workshop is designed to introduce the major applications of microscopy in pharmaceutical development: polymorphism, particle size analysis, contaminant identification, and glass corrosion.

The workshop is conducted over 4½ days with a mixture of theory, demonstrations, and hands-on work. The course is designed to prepare the student to apply microscopy to solve solid-state pharmaceutical issues. The emphasis is on the practical use of the microscope.


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.


Lecture, demonstration, and hands-on practice, as well as round table tips and tricks discussions. Participants are encouraged to bring their own samples, if possible. Laboratory exercises are designed to teach the student how to collect the appropriate information to aid drug development. Numerous case studies are presented to further the student’s ability to accurately interpret data and merge microscopy data with that from other instruments.

Main Curriculum

  • Polymorphism: using polarized light and thermal microscopy, along with IR and Raman micro-spectroscopy
  • Size and shape analysis using light microscopy, SEM/EDS with image analysis
  • Chemical imaging using SEM, fluorescence microscopy and micro-spectroscopy with image analysis
  • Glass vial corrosion (delamination) using light microscopy and SEM
  • Contamination identification using polarized light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, EDS, and micro-spectroscopy

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 30 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 39 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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