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Electron Microscopy Sciences

EMS Academy Applications

arrow13Pharmaceutical Microscopy Workshop: Applications

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 Teflon tape. Teflon 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).


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 is intended for the intermediate level analyst who is skilled at some of the microscopy techniques but needs training in other techniques and in interpretation.

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 three 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.


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

  • Polymorphism: using Polarized light and thermal microscopy
  • Ir and Raman Microspectroscopy
  • Size and shape analysis: using OLM, SEM/EDS, and fluorescence with image analysis
  • Contamination identification and glass corrosion analysis: using polarized and scanning microscopes
  • EDS and Microspectroscopy

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 Inovations, 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.

View our schedule to see if this course is currently offered.

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