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Microscopy of Explosives (1722), October 11-15, 2021 In-Person

IMPORTANT: McCrone Research Institute is adhering to all federal and local COVID-19 safety guidelines. In-person course attendees are required to wear a face mask that covers their nose and mouth for the entire day of class. Learn more


Course schedule: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday – Thursday, and 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Friday

This advanced course in the microscopy of bulk explosives, pyrotechnics, and explosive residues will cover organic, inorganic, military, commercial, and improvised explosives. The identification techniques are based on morphology, optical crystallography, microchemical tests, and visual thermal methods. Proficiency in polarized light microscopy is assumed and necessary.

Prerequisite: Applied Polarized Light Microscopy (1201) / Forensic Microscopy (1204) or equivalent.

Day 1
Köhler illumination; Crystal morphology: crystal systems, symmetry elements, axes, forms, interfacial angles, axial ratios

Day 2
Crystal Optics I: refractive index determinations, indices of crystals in each crystal system
Crystal Optics II: Birefringence, retardation, Michel Levy chart, extinction, anomalous optical properties, interference figures

Day 3
Microchemical tests: inorganic ions, organic compounds

Fusion methods: melting points, identity test, form of crystal-front, optical properties of fusion preparations

Day 4
Identification schemes for organic and inorganic high explosives
Isolation and identification of explosive residues

Day 5
Identification of unknowns