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The analysis of composite materials using optical microscopy is a process that can be made easy and efficient with only a few contrast methods and preparation techniques. This article is intended to provide information that will help an investigator select the appropriate microscopy technique for the specific analysis objectives with a given composite material. The article opens with a discussion of macrophotography and microscope alignment, and then goes on to describe various illumination techniques that are useful for specific analysis requirements. These techniques include bright-field illumination, dark-field illumination, polarized-light microscopy, interference and contrast microscopy, and fluorescence microscopy. The article also provides a discussion of sample preparation materials such as dyes, etchants, and stains for the analysis of composite materials using optical microscopy.

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