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Wood identification of charcoal with 3D-reflected light microscopy

Valentina Zemke, Volker Haag, Gerald Koch
IAWA journal v.41 no.4 pp. 478-489
charcoal, light microscopy, lighting, polarized light, scanning electron microscopy, surfaces, tropical wood, wood anatomy
The present study focusses on the application of 3D-reflected light microscopy (3D-RLM) for the wood anatomical identification of charcoal specimens produced from domestic and tropical timbers. This special microscopic technique offers a detailed investigation of anatomical features in charcoal directly compared with the quality of field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM). The advantages of using the 3D-RLM technology are that fresh fracture planes of charcoal can be directly observed under the microscope without further preparation or surface treatment. Furthermore, the 3D-technique with integrated polarized light illumination creates high-contrast images of uneven and black charcoal surfaces. Important diagnostic structural features such as septate fibres and intercellular canals can be clearly detected and intervessel pits are directly measured. The comparison of the microscopic analyses reveals that 3D-reflected light microscopy (3D-RLM) provides an effective alternative technique to conventional field emission scanning electron microscopy for the identification of carbonized wood.