Hot Stage Microscopy (non-GMP)

Introduction to Hot Stage Microscopy

Hot-stage microscopy (HSM), is the combination of microscopy and thermal analysis to enable the study of materials as a function of temperature and time. Besides obtaining information about particle size and particle morphology, the visual examination gives valuable information about the compound with regard to melting point and other transformations during heating. Hot Stage Microscopy gives an unique opportunity to visually follow thermal changes.

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Further, characteristics that can be analyzed under a hot stage microscope include melting range (which depends on the purity), crystal nucleation and crystal growth (which can be used in search for new polymorphic forms), crystal transformations and interactions between the compound and excipients (examination of compatibility). I.e. various pharmaceutical applications exist.

Hot Stage Microscopy can be used for:

  1. Compound morphology
  2. Solid-solid transformations
  3. Interaction between different compounds
  4. Dissolution of one compound in another
  5. Sublimation and/or evaporation
  6. Melting or liquefaction upon heating (solid-liquid transformations)
  7. Solidification upon cooling (liquid-solid transformations)
  8. Crystal growth and rate thereof

Hot stage microscopy is used in our polymorph screening: A initial heating of the compound is a very useful starting point, as it will instantly reveal new crystalline forms developing during heating and cooling of the compound.

Instrument and measuring principle

The instrument setup comprises of a heating stage (hot stage) with a sample holder coupled with a suitable polarized-light microscope and a system that allows measurements of video/pictures and temperature.


Technical info
InstrumentOlympus BX-50 Microscope connected to a Mettler Toledo Hot Stage.
Sample amount< 1 mg
Temperature RT to 375 °C
ResultMicroscope pictures/movie showing the transitions during heating
Photo from a Hot-Stage Microscope. A compound after melting and re-crystallisation. Transformations can be quite beautiful!