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Abstracts, Last Names M-Z

Abstracts are listed alphabetically by the last name of the speaker. View the presentations schedule.
Abstracts and speakers are subject to change; check this page regularly for additions and updates.

View Abstracts, Last Names A-L


Does it Fluoresce? Explorations in a Spectral World
Charles Mazel — NIGHTSEA
What do bread mold, nylon granules, nematodes, microplastics, bumblebees, epoxy, mouse ears, and electronic components have in common? These are among the variety of things that have been sent to NIGHTSEA to check the capability of our systems. As a purveyor of equipment for viewing and documenting fluorescence, NIGHTSEA encounters a wide variety of opportunities to apply the technique in new applications, overcome challenges in optimizing a system, and clarify misconceptions on the part of customers.

This talk will cover some of the situations we encounter in working with existing and potential users: testing samples in-house, over-reliance on tables that list only excitation and emission peak wavelengths, neglect of the visible as a source of excitation energy, and more.

Answering the questions “Does it fluoresce?” and “How can I make it fluoresce better?” can involve both empirical and first-principles approaches. These can lead us to off-the-shelf solutions and provide guidance in developing new products and accessories. They can also take us to interesting places, such as a bat cave in New Jersey.
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Microscopy of Asbestos-Cement Pipe
James R. Millette — Millette Technical Consulting
As with most asbestos analysis concerns, microscopy plays an important part in the studies of asbestos-cement (A-C) pipe. There are millions of miles of A-C pipe throughout the world carrying drinking water and wastewater and used as electrical cable conduit. In the U.S., Johns-Manville was a major producer of A-C pipe, and their product name Transite has become a generic term for A-C pipe. CertainTeed was another major U.S. producer in the A-C pipe industry. In 2009, the owner of Eternite, Stephan Schmidheiny, was prosecuted in a criminal trial in Turin, Italy for the asbestos exposures connected with asbestos-cement products. Eternite was a major worldwide producer of A-C pipe with subsidiaries in Europe, South America, and South Africa.

Bulk analysis with polarized light microscopy (PLM) is the usual type of analysis done for A-C pipe. Our analysis of A-C pipe manufactured by CertainTeed and Johns-Manville found them to contain 10 – 25% chrysotile asbestos and 4 – 15% crocidolite asbestos by volume. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is the mandated instrument in the analysis of drinking water that flows through A-C pipe. The U.S. EPA maximum contaminate level for asbestos in drinking water is 7 million asbestos fibers longer than 10 µm.

Only waters of certain corrosive nature will cause the deterioration of the cement binder in A-C pipe and allow the release of asbestos fibers into the water. Some A-C pipe has been in the ground for decades without any deterioration. However, other A-C pipe systems have deteriorated to the point where shower and sink aerators have been clogged with asbestos fibers released into the water. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was very useful in studying the key factors in developing a water stability index that predicts when A-C pipe will be attacked. A transmission electron microscope is typically used to measure the amount of asbestos in the air released from water that has flowed through an A-C pipe into the air through showers and humidifiers. Re-suspension of waterborne asbestos into the air can also occur when water dries on a surface and the fibers are dispersed during a cleaning event. The air analyses follow standard microscope airborne asbestos protocols.

As determined by standard asbestos microscope techniques, significant airborne levels of asbestos can be generated during the installation and repair of A-C pipe, especially when it is cut with a power saw. Airborne releases of asbestos fibers have also been found during situations when pieces of A-C pipe bump or rub against each other.
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Raman Has Never Been So Sweet
Brendan Nytes — Microtrace, LLC
Of the myriad different substances that we encounter in our laboratory, carbohydrates are one of the more common materials observed. They may be present as part of a food product as a starch, in a textile as a cotton fiber, or in pharmaceuticals as a microcrystalline cellulose excipient, etc. These materials are typically identified by their microscopic morphology and optical properties. Sugar, another carbohydrate that is often observed, can also be identified by these characteristics. In some instances, the optical properties may not be readily apparent, and a specific identification of the type of sugar may require a different analytical technique. Well established identification methods, e.g., chromatography, can be time consuming and require sample preparation. Raman spectroscopy has shown promise as a means by which to differentiate carbohydrates, including sugars. The advantage to Raman is that it can be conducted in situ with little or no sample preparation. This talk explores the analysis of various carbohydrates, including sugars and sugar products, by Raman microspectroscopy.
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Fulgurites and Forensic Science: A Novel Application of Forensic Geology
Christopher S. Palenik — Microtrace, LLC
The term fulgurite, which derives from the Latin fulgur (meaning “thunderbolt”), was originally intended to refer to amorphous silica produced by lightning strikes. Over time, this term has been more broadly applied throughout the literature to include amorphous silica, or related compositions, produced as a result of high temperature and/or high pressure events that can include anthropogenic activities. The identification and characterization of a suspected fulgurite through polarized light microscopy, electron microscopy, and Raman microspectroscopy can produce a wealth of information about its identity and its pressure/temperature history. The combination of analytical methods can be used to place constraints upon the conditions of fulgurite formation, distinguish between natural and anthropogenic origins, and potentially provide some insight into the relative timing of fulgurite formation. This information can be used in a forensic context to provide information about the start of fires occurring under certain circumstances.
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Some Lesser Known Microchemists and a Look at Some of Their Work
Skip J. Palenik — Microtrace, LLC
Most delegates at Inter/Micro are familiar with the names Behrens, Emich, Chamot, Feigl, Benedetti-Pichler, and Cheronis, as well as their contributions to classical microchemical analysis. This presenter became acquainted with them from an early age, when he began his practical studies of microchemistry. Over the years, growing familiarity with the publications of these authors widened to include the acquisition of many of the books and articles that they recommended in their works. These new references were gradually acquired and studied, as were the works of new generations of microchemists who followed these pioneers. By the time I began my career with Dr. McCrone, the amount of research reported in this field had diminished and current work in it was published primarily in journals such as the Microchemical Journal and Mikrochemica Acta. The articles published in these journals, their references, and book reviews provided leads to new researchers and their works. This talk will present some of the results of these researches into the work of other notable microchemists whom this author believes should be brought to the attention of those still employing these useful and delicate procedures.
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Topics in Nonwoven Structures and Fibers
Walter J. Rantanen — SGS IPS Testing
Nonwovens are formed with natural and/or synthetic fibers and produced using different web-forming systems. Various nonwoven fabrics that are produced include wipes, personal care products, toweling, filters, and upholstery backing. The use of light microscopy is beneficial when analyzing nonwoven fabrics due to the complex array of different forming systems and fiber types available. Microscopy can compliment the chemical analysis and some of the physical testing to achieve complete data on a material. Analysis of the fibers by testing methods with the microscope can also determine qualitative and quantitative information, where other methods lack this ability.
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An Excel(ent) Guide for Fiber Identification Using Polarized Light Microscopy
John A. Reffner, Ph.D. and Samuel Kaplan B.S. — John Jay College, CUNY
A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is a useful tool to guide the analysis of fibers using polarized light microscopy (PLM). The classical PLM method of fiber identification is to measure the principal refractive indices using the Becke line to determine the refractive index of the fiber relative to a surrounding mounting medium. Determining principal refractive indices requires the mounting of fibers in several different refractive index liquids. Synthetic fibers and some natural fibers behave optically as uniaxial crystals. As such, fibers have a continuous gradient of refractive index. The gradient ranges from high to low, corresponding to the principle refractive index values. When fibers are examined using polarized light, the principal refractive index values are aligned parallel and perpendicular to the fiber axis. If a fiber is mounted in a liquid with an index of refraction between the principal values, then at some angle of fiber (and microscope stage) rotation, the Becke line will vanish. The angle between the fiber axis and the position at which the Becke line disappears is measured. This angle is a function of the fiber composition and refractive index of the liquid. If the refractive index of the liquid and the principal values of the fiber are known, then the angle of rotation can be calculated. Using the equation of an ellipse in spherical coordinates, an Excel spreadsheet was developed that generates tables of data that aid in fiber analysis. This presentation will give examples that demonstrate the utility of this guide for improving the efficiency of fiber identification.
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Microscopy in Polymer Product Development
John R. Reffner1, Jim Bohling2, Paul Brigandi3, Casey Wolf1, and Jeffrey Cogen31Analytical Sciences, The Dow Chemical Company; 2Dow Coatings, The Dow Chemical Company; 3Elastomers, Electrical & Telecommunications, The Dow Chemical Company
This talk will cover two applications of microscopy in industrial research. We have used Cryo-TEM and Cryo-SEM extensively in the development of advanced latex binders for architectural coatings. These binders are typically soft at room temperature, and Cryo-SEM and Cryo-TEM provide unique insights into the structure of the latex and latex-pigment composites. In addition, we have used scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and polarized light microscopy (PLM) for fundamental studies of semi-conductive polymer blends. In the system investigated, control of the morphology and dispersion of the conductive filler (carbon black) was used to produce semi-conductive blends at very low loadings (~1%).
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How Can We Measure “Shape”?
John C. Russ — North Carolina State University, Materials Science Department
The identification and classification of objects, both microscopic and macroscopic, is a challenging but important goal in many fields, including research, industrial quality control, and forensics. Color and size are often useful criteria but may vary depending on magnification, illumination, and other factors. Shape is very important for human recognition, but this must be expressed in numeric measurements for computer usage. Several approaches to shape measurement are described and compared. Some of these are complete (able to reproduce the original shape exactly) and some are reductive, extracting a small number of hopefully significant values such as formally dimensionless ratios of dimensions. Some, such as Fourier or wavelet analysis or fractal dimension, depend only on the boundary of the object, while others, such as moments, topology, and cross correlation, use the interior as well. These methods also differ in the amount of computation required and their sensitivity to the quality of the digitized images. But all depend to a considerable degree on the size and quality of the training population used, and on the application of proper statistical analysis methods.
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Recent Advances in Raman Imaging Microscopy
Alexander Rzhevskii — Thermo Fisher Scientific
Raman microscopy has become one of the most powerful instrumental techniques for a diverse range of applications in both research and analytical laboratories. In this presentation, I will consider the recent technological advancements in Raman spectral imaging, including EMCCD detectors, fast moving sampling stages, advanced software, etc. These advancements offer additional analytical possibilities in analyzing two- and three-dimensional spatial distributions of materials on a sub-micrometer scale with an information-reach content, while maintaining a reasonable image acquisition time.

Raman imaging microscopy is a valuable technique for hyperchemical characterization of micro- and nanostructures. The essential advantages of Raman spectral imaging will be illustrated with examples in polymer, pharmaceutical, gemological, semiconductor, ceramic, and biological applications.
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“EXCELIBR”: An Excel Spreadsheet for Solving the Optical Orientation of Uniaxial and Biaxial Crystals
C.J. Steven and M.E. Gunter — Geological Sciences, University of Idaho
The polarized light microscope remains the single most useful tool in identifying minerals. Using a spindle stage, the microscopist can orient a crystal’s principle refractive index (RI) vectors with the polarizer. Finding the principle RI vectors is accomplished by using either conoscopic methods, or more simply, using extinction data as inputs in the program EXCALIBR. The use of EXCALIBR has major advantages over conoscopic methods, but it is hindered by interface and compatibility issues. Presented here is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, which the authors have named “EXCELIBR,” which performs operations similar to EXCALIBR, including solving for the optical orientation of biaxial or uniaxial minerals using extinction data. With Excel as the interface, EXCELIBR is more accessible, familiar, and versatile for the user. This spreadsheet is useful for preliminary screening of a crystal for X-ray studies, optical characterization of minerals, and rapid mineral identification. Included with the crystal orienting calculations are tabs for double variation, RI modeling, and compensator plate calculations.
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A Microscopical Trip Down Memory Lane: 40+ Years of McCrone Christmas Card Photomicrography
Sebastian B. Sparenga — McCrone Research Institute
McCrone Research Institute recently assembled a collection of all the known Christmas cards that were produced for the various McCrone enterprises over the past several decades. It was such an impressive display that it needs to be shared. This talk will review selected Christmas card photomicrographs and provide insight on how some of these magnificent images were produced.
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Microscopical Analyses of Construction Products Derived from Industrial Waste
Arthur Struss — USG Corp. (retired)
Companies such as USG Corp. turn air pollutants and waste materials into useful products. Sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants are converted to gypsum for wallboard. 100% of the paper used on wallboard is from recycled paper. Fly ash from coal combustion is used in cement. Waste slag from iron and copper smelters is spun into mineral wool for fire-rated ceiling tile and for insulation.

Microscopical analyses are an essential part of utilizing industrial waste in construction products. Flue gas desulfurization gypsum is analyzed microscopically to determine crystal size and morphology and to identify contaminants. Measurement of mineral wool fiber diameter is important, as well as the study of cement porosity and the void structure in wallboard. Examples of these investigations will show how microscopy is used to solve problems related to using industrial waste in construction products.
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A Forensic Study of Known Toner Nanoparticles
Katie M. White and Christopher S. Palenik — Microtrace, LLC
Whether we are aware of them or not, small particles abound in the environments that surround us. Small particles may be engineered for use in manufactured products, be present in dusts generated from man-made industrial processes, or occur naturally in the environment. Some of these particles are just barely visible, while others are so small that they cannot be resolved by the human eye. These subvisible and submicrometer particles (nanoparticles) offer potential as forensic evidence, but they are presently unexploited due to the challenges that their small size present.

One example of subvisible particles is the toner powder used in laser printers and copiers. Presently, most existing research on forensic toner analysis focuses on document examination, i.e., analysis of printed toner, rather than on trace evidence. However, toner is widely used, and these small particles are easily transferred and rarely noticed. Identification of trace amounts of toner, e.g., on hands or clothing or in dust, could be used to provide investigative leads or associate them with a scene and/or victim, particularly if the particles are suggestive of a specific toner.

This presentation will discuss the results from an analytical study of more than 50 different toner samples. This research evaluates microscopic morphologies observed by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, and chemical properties determined by Raman spectroscopy, of the known toner samples, providing methods that can be used in the forensic laboratory to identify and classify toner particles. Analytical differences observed within the sample set, the prevalence of background toner particles in different environments, and limitations of this approach will be covered.
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Investigation of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17
Peter Zoon and Erwin Vermeij — Netherlands Forensic Institute
In the afternoon of July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed near Hrabove in eastern Ukraine. All 298 passengers and crew were killed. Initial reports hint at a non-accidental cause of the crash. At the time of the crash, an armed conflict between Ukrainian military and armed pro-Russia forces was taking place, which prevented the possibility of investigating at the crash site. Human remains and wreckage parts were eventually returned to the Netherlands.

On July 23, 2014, the disaster victim identification (DVI) process started at the Cpl. Van Oudheusden barracks in Hilversum. A forensic triage was set up within the DVI process to obtain forensic evidence. Mobile CT scanning, X-ray scanning, and handheld X-ray scanning were used in this triage to identify fragments from the wreckage. In December 2014, wreckage parts arrived in the Netherlands and a similar forensic triage was established.

Scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) analysis of the fragments in combination with a focused ion beam (FIB) setup to create in situ surface cross-sections were successful in identifying the origin of the fragments. Laser ablation ICPMS analysis yielded quantitative elemental compositions of the recovered fragments and the relationship between the fragments from the human remains and the wreckage parts.
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