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An optical property of some crystalline materials. Birefringence indicates the crystal has two different refractive indices when viewed from two different molecular orientations. Birefringent particles will appear bright and/or colorful when viewed through a microscope using crossed polars. These interference colors are due the their birefringence and thickness. Many synthetic fibers are birefringent.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Doppelbrechung (Deut.); birrefringencia (Esp.); doble refracción (Esp.); biréfringence (Fr.); dubbelbrekendheid (Ned.); birefraction; double refraction;

Resources and Citations

  • ASTM, Standard Terminology of Microscopy, Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Section 14, General Methods and Instrumentation, ASTM, E175, 75-78, May 1982
  • Walter C. McCrone, John Gustave Delly, The Particle Atlas, W. McCrone Associates, Chicago, IV, 1972
  • Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Dictionary of Fiber & Textile Technology (older version called Man-made Fiber and Textile Dictionary, 1965), Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Charlotte NC, 1990
  • Mary-Lou Florian, Dale Paul Kronkright, Ruth E. Norton, The Conservation of Artifacts Made from Plant Materials, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 1990