Optical Microscope Laboratory
The Optical Microscope Laboratory contains a suite of modern microscopes for a wide range of purposes. It is used by our undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as research and academic staff.
The laboratory contains a suite of modern microscopes suitable for:
- petrological work
- digital photography
- point counting
- mineral separation
- heating/cooling stages
- fluid inclusion studies
More details on our range of fluid inclusion, cathodoluminescence and optical microscopes are under each of the drop-down menus below.
Fluid inclusions are microscopic vacuoles in minerals that contain geo-fluids such as solids, gases, brines, petroleum and mixtures. They are a microscopic record of the pressure, volume, temperature and composition of the fluids that were present when the inclusions were formed. By carefully studying fluid inclusions on specially designed microscopes and heating and freezing them, invaluable geochemical and geological information can be obtained. This data is often otherwise unobtainable.
We have two state-of-the-art fluid inclusion microscope systems.
Fluid Inc system
- Microscope: Nikon BX51
- With x10 oculars, x5, x10, x40 and x50 long working distance lenses
This system has been specially adapted to allow work on micron-scale inclusions hosted in digenetic cements. The microscope also has an inbuilt magnification system of up to x2, giving a maximum magnification of x1000. The scope is fully equipped with transmitted white light and incidental UV light facilities. Attached to the system is a SPOT INSIGHT digital camera, which transmits live video to a PC attached to the system. Images can be saved to the PC and manipulated for reports and presentations.
Attached to this microscope is a modified USGS heating and freezing stage, designed by Fluid Inc. USA. This allows microthermometry to be performed on inclusions:
- By passing heated air, or heated nitrogen over the sample, inclusions can be heated to 700 °C.
- By passing nitrogen gas passed through liquid nitrogen over the sample, inclusions can be cooled to -190 °C.
- Microscope: Leitz Metallux 3 microscope
- With x10 oculars, x5, x10, x20 x40 and x60 long working distance lenses
The microscope also has an inbuilt magnification system of up to x3, giving a maximum magnification of x1800. The scope is fully equipped with transmitted white light and incidental UV light facilities, UV light allowing petroleum inclusions to be identified.
Attached to this microscope is a LINKAM heating and freezing stage. The LINKAM system is microprocessor controlled, and heating and freezing rates can be controlled very accurately. This allows microthermometry to be performed on inclusions:
- By passing heating the sample on a conductive block, inclusions can be heated to 600 °C.
- By passing liquid nitrogen over the sample, inclusions can be cooled to -190 °C.
Cathodoluminescence (CL) is the emission of light from a material when it is irradiated with electrons. The technique is used for imaging spatial variations in the trace element composition of natural (e.g. calcite, diamond, feldspar and apatite) and synthetic materials.
Our School has a cold cathode, CITL 8200 Mk 3A mounted on a Nikon Optiphot petrological microscope available for optical cathodoluminescence studies.
We also have a CL detector mounted on our Scanning Electron Microscope that is used for high-resolution work, or for minerals that have a poor or UV light emission.
We have a range of petrological and stereo microscopes that are available to students and staff.
|Zeiss Smartproof 5||Confocal microscope for 3D surface imaging.|
|Leica DMLP Reflected/transmitted light polarizing microscope||
With DFC 420C camera and Leica Application Suite v4.00.
(Donated by Professor Williams and upgraded from EMMAC funds, 2007).
|Leica DMLP transmitted light polarizing microscope||
With a Prior X-Y motorised stage an in-house software for point counting.
(Donated by Dr Rachel Wood and upgraded from EMMAC funds, 2009).
|Nikon SMZ800 Stereo microscope||For both incident and transmitted illumination capability for viewing whole large-format thin sections under crossed polars, and attachment for Nikon Coolpix digital camera.|
|Nikon Eclipse e200 petrological microscope||With Nikon Coolpix camera.|
|Zeiss binocular petrological microscopes||(Donated in 2003 from the estate of Sir F. H. Stuart.)|
|Zeiss monocular petrological microscope||(Donated by Dr John Dixon and Professor Colin Graham.)|
|Zeiss Stemi 2000-C stereo microscope||
Used for mineral separation.
(Donated to the School of GeoSciences by Dr. H Sinclair.)
|Zeiss Stemi SV11 stereo microscope||
With drawing tube.
(Donated by Dr S. Rigby)
|Wild M420 stereo microscope||With DFC 420C camera and Leica Application Suite|
|Leitz Metallux 3 microscope||For Linkham fluid inclusion stage.|
|Nikon Optiphot||For Cathodoluminesence studies.|
Contact and location
The Optical Microscope Laboratory is located in the Grant Institute, King's Buildings campus at the University of Edinburgh
There is also an optical microscope room in our physical geography laboratories located at the Institute of Geography, Central area campus. It includes various microscopes suitable for diatom, pollen, tephra, geological thin section and plant macrofossil identification. The microscope room is open to all students as well as research and academic staff from the School of GeoSciences.
For more information, please contact:
Dr John Craven Senior Research Fellow
- Telephone: +44 (0) 131 650 7887
- Email: John.Craven@ed.ac.uk
- Address: Grant Institute, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, James Hutton Road, EDINBURGH EH9 3FE