Conventional optical microscopy of colloidal suspensions

M S Elliot, Wilson Poon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Optical microscopy can resolve detail at the larger end of the colloidal length scale, and to image suspensions at an individual particle level of resolution would allow the investigation of local behaviour in a way denied to the established scattering techniques. However, to achieve high-contrast single-particle resolution in dense suspensions that are thick enough to show behaviour the same as would be expected in the bulk is not a trivial exercise. We build on established advanced techniques of the conventional (i.e. non-confocal) light microscopy of phase objects to develop a suitable experimental protocol. Furthermore, we demonstrate the effectiveness of this protocol by means of an 'atlas' of the hard-sphere crystalline solid (where random stacking results in many complex facets), which should serve as a compendium for future study. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-194
Number of pages62
JournalAdvances in Colloid and Interface Science
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2001


  • optical microscopy
  • hard spheres
  • crystallization

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