Organic-walled fossils, such as graptolites and Chitinozoa, show a high degree of transparency to near infrared radiation relative to visible light. Infrared video microscopy (IVM) provides real-time images of the three-dimensional form and internal structure of many specimens that are opaque to visible light. An infrared video camera can be mounted on a biological or petrographic, transmitted-light microscope, and with the addition of a monitor and video printer, images can be viewed and directly printed. With the use of a digital frame-capture system, the IVM images can be digitally stored for analysis, enhancement and printing. As compared with scanning electron microscopy, which only reveals the external form, IVM shows such features as fusellar growth bands and internal septa of graptolites and the prosome structure of Chitinozoa. This method eliminates the need for chemical clearing of specimens for study in visible light, which damages the surface texture and commonly renders specimens too brittle for further manipulation. Infrared video microscopy is potentially applicable to the study of any organic-walled fossils and to the petrographic study of sedimentary organic matter.
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