Don't worry, much of emulsion making is described in literature. Certainly enough is written as long as b&w emulsions are concerned. Most recent advancement is written for color photography, but some of those new techniques can be applied to b&w emulsions as well.

Kodak people may have strong internal barriers in terms of sharing information within them, but Fuji worked on research and development with huge teams, and people changed their role every 5-15 years. So many people know more than one aspect of emulsion chemistry. And Fuji (and ex-Fuji) people still publish their knowledge in scientific journals even in 2005. They are still doing basic science of silver imaging.

Also, it takes a certain kind of skill to read useful info out of patents. Patents are usually applied as a "network" around each new breakthrough, and different people have different styles. But once you get the art of patent deciphering, you'll get a lot of info from them, especially if you cross-check patents and scientific papers.

Plus, I'm not that old.


Quote Originally Posted by Neanderman
Emulsion making in concept is fairly easy. In practice, however, it is an incredibly complex undertaking.

First off, you have the gelatin. It has to meet certain standards of purity -- meaning it can't have the wrong impurities, but it needs to have some of the right impurities. (Shortly after Eastman started manufacturing dry plates, he had a large batch fail. Investigation traced it back to the sulfur content of that batch of gelatin. This product failure played a large part in the formation of the Kodak Labs.)

Once you have the gelatin, you have to very carefully and consistently add the other ingredients (i.e., the silver, the halide(s), the sensitizers, etc). Then you have to let the emulsion age for a period of time.

Once it has aged, it has to be allowed to solidify. It is then shredded and carefully and thoroughly washed to remove all of the excess and byproduct chemicals.

Then you get into coating...

While much of the basic science of emulsion making is quite well documented in the literature, there is a great deal of proprietary, unpublished knowledge involved as well. Kenneth Mees addressed this in the preface to his book "The Theory of Photography" saying that he had to basically ignore that whole aspect of the science because much of his knowledge of it was acquired via his work for Eastman and was therefore nondisclosable.

I have a great fear that, because so much of this is proprietary, it will be "lost" information should the major manufacturers cease manufacturing film.