Crystal Mania

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RobBerdan
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Crystal Mania

#1 Post by RobBerdan » Mon Mar 25, 2019 2:06 am

I am working on photographing crystals with polarized light and trying to optimize conditions for growing Vitamin C crystals which in my opinion are some of the most beautiful crystals I have seen. A couple of things I have learned is that a mix of water and isopropyl alcohol seems to work best. Isopropyl 99% by itself results in some grainy looking crystals, and water by itself results in faint crystals that are very large - a 1 to 1 mix of water and alcohol seemed to work best. The largest crystals occured when I air dried the samples on microscope slides as opposed to heating the sample on a hot plate - it might take them a few hours but the crystals are more distinct and bigger. Still its amazing how much variety there is in the crystal shapes. I am going to try some other solvents in the future like acetone, methanol etc. I spent hours photographing the different crystals and could have spent even longer.

Below are some photos I took over the weekend - some of them are very large panoramas made up of 30 images or more.
Most were photographed with 2.5, 5, and 10x Plan Achromatic objectives. I describe how I prepare the crystals on my web site for those that might be interested. Vitamin C crystals are by far the most beautiful crystals I have found so far.
Cheers
RB
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Glycolyse
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Re: Crystal Mania

#2 Post by Glycolyse » Mon Mar 25, 2019 11:36 pm

Stunning work... You are an inspiration !

Bryan
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Re: Crystal Mania

#3 Post by Bryan » Tue Mar 26, 2019 3:31 am

Beautiful shots! How much vitamin C do you put into solution? I was doing 1/4 teaspoon in 30ml solution.

Suphot
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Re: Crystal Mania

#4 Post by Suphot » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:38 am

The 3rd photo was very colorful.



Suphot

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RobBerdan
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Re: Crystal Mania Questions

#5 Post by RobBerdan » Tue Mar 26, 2019 5:44 pm

To answer your question how much Vitamin C to use - I generally make up a tube of 3 ml of deionized water, and 3 ml of 99% isopropyl alcohol - and add about small teaspoon of the powder and mix thouroughly - I use a laboratory vortex mixer but shaking would be fine to get as much of the powder dissolved as possible. Not all the Vitamin C goes into solution that way I know the solution is saturated. Then I simply put samples of the clear solution on a microscope slide. If I am in a hurry I put the slide on a hot plate on low to accelerate the evaporation, but the best results seem to occur if you let the slide dry in air for about 1-3 hours - the crystals are bigger. When you are done taking pictures, you can save the dried crystal slides for viewing or photographing another day.

I am going to test other solvents like acetone etc, but water, or isopropyl alcohol by themselves don't seem to be as good as the mixture of the two solvents.

I make about 10 slides at a time and this usually provides enough crystals for hours of photography.
I get the pure Vitamin C at a Medicine shop it cost me about $10 Canadian for a bottle which should last me forever - it comes as a pure white powder.

Hope this helps.
Cheers
RB

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Radazz
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Re: Crystal Mania

#6 Post by Radazz » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:47 pm

Hi, Rob,
I’m curious whether you see better crystal growth with a quickly or a slowly evaporating medium?
Radazz
Arnold, Missouri
Olympus IX70
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Olympus SZ40

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RobBerdan
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Re: Crystal Mania

#7 Post by RobBerdan » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:49 pm

Hi Radazz - in answer to your question.

Usually the crystals are bigger when they are allowed to form overnight of over a period of days. Slow growth seems to result in bigger crystals.

I sometimes accelerate evaporation by heating the slides on a hot plate, but the crystals tend to be larger when
dried more slowly. Some crystals form nicely when air dried on the slide, others form under and around the edge of the
coverslip and some chemicals won't crystallize under a coverslip. I like to use a coverslip sometimes because it keeps the crystal flatter and I don't have to stack the photographs.

When using a solvent like isopropyl alcohol - the solvent dries quickly. Some crystals will form in seconds, others minutes, and some after hours or days. Some substances like Vitamin C seem to work best in a mixture of water and ispropyl alcohol. There is a lot of variation in the crystals even when I use a single chemical, perhaps influenced by dust, impurities, dirt on the slide etc. I usually make about 10 slides at a time and some turn out fantastic others are not very good for photography, but once you get a few good slides you can explore them for hours. I also keep my best slides in slide boxes so I can revisit them again later. The dried crystals if kept free from dust seem to last at least several months perhaps longer.

Hope this helps.
RB

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Radazz
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Re: Crystal Mania

#8 Post by Radazz » Fri Mar 29, 2019 8:30 pm

Thanks, Rob,
I like to grow my crystals on cover slips as well.

Tried heating them, but I invariably burn them.

Also tried in a vacuum, but got almost no reaction in 24 hours.

Crystallography is one of my favorite aspects of our wonderful hobby. I need to do more.

Radazz
Arnold, Missouri
Olympus IX70
Olympus BX40
Olympus SZ40

nboyer
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Location: Northern Virginia

Re: Crystal Mania

#9 Post by nboyer » Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:14 am

Very cool, indeed. Kinda reminds me of a kaleidoscope. Thanks for sharing, great pictures. Cheers! -Norm
Olympus CX22 LED
Zeiss Axiovert 25

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