Polarizing microscopes are a type of compound or light microscope often called petrographic microscopes or commonly know as PLM or Polarizing Light Microscopes since their main application is in studying the optical and chemical properties of rocks and minerals (mineralogy) under polarized light. This facilitates for the viewing under the microscope thin sections of slides the study of birefringent materials such as crystals and strained non-crystalline substances.
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In a classic optical microscope, also known as the simple “light” microscope, visible light is sent through a series of lenses to magnify a sample. A polarizing microscope, or PLM, is an optical microscope with the addition of a polarizing filters that acts to polarize visible light.
The polarized light microscope (PLM) is designed to observe and photograph specimens that are visible primarily due to their optically anisotropic character.