A Maiden Voyage to MRS 2018

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Linkam are excited to announce this year we will be attending the Materials Research Society 2018 Fall Meeting in Boston.

It’s proving to be a show full of firsts, as not only will we be exhibiting at MRS for the first time, but we will also be showcasing our brand new Mechanical Testing Stage. With compression and tensile force control and multi-point bending as well as temperature control, the stage is ideal for the materials characterisation applications.

We’ll also be bringing our optical DSC450, electrical probe stages and many more, so please do come see us on booth 908.

Lab of the Month: September 2018

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 Caption 1: Dr Hieu Nguyen (second right) and PhD students Mike Tebyetekerwa (first left), Thien Truong (second left), Rabin Basnet (third left) and honour student Zhuofeng Li (far right).

Caption 1: Dr Hieu Nguyen (second right) and PhD students Mike Tebyetekerwa (first left), Thien Truong (second left), Rabin Basnet (third left) and honour student Zhuofeng Li (far right).

Photovoltaics (PV) research at the Australian National University (ANU) is at the global cutting edge, spanning the entire spectrum of solar electricity technologies - from solar forecasting, to fabricating high-efficiency PV cells, to integrating renewables with storage capacity into the grid. Dr Hieu Nguyen received his PhD (PV) from the ANU under the supervision of Prof Daniel Macdonald in 2016. Since then, he has been a research fellow and lecturer at the same university.

The central idea of his research is to promote and advance the field of luminescence spectroscopy and imaging through knowledge and scientific discoveries, and technique inventions. His team, as a sub-group of the PV group at the ANU, explore fundamental properties of light emitted from photovoltaic materials and devices under various conditions. They work to uncover the relationship between the emitted light and the important properties of the materials and devices, including optical, electrical, chemical, and structural properties. By exploiting these photons, the team also develop novel Raman/luminescence-based characterisation techniques with applications to renewable energy and material science.

In their labs, they integrate the Linkam THMS600 with a confocal Horiba Raman/luminescence spectrometer and a confocal time-resolved photoluminescence system. These tools allow them to probe optoelectronic properties of numerous photovoltaic materials spanning crystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, SiNx, perovskites, transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), etc. at both material and device levels. The team have made numerous original and significant contributions to fundamental understandings of interactions between light and materials/defects in the PV field.

You can find some of their recent publications here:

[1] L. Zhang, A. Sharma, Y. Zhu, Y. Zhang, B. Wang, M. Dong, H.T. Nguyen, Z. Wang, B. Wen, Y. Cao, B. Liu, X. Sun, J. Yang, Zi. Li, A. Kar, Y. Shi, D. Macdonald, Z. Yu, X. Wang, Yuerui Lu, Efficient and Layer‐Dependent Exciton Pumping across Atomically Thin Organic–Inorganic Type‐I Heterostructures, Advanced Materials, (2018) 1803986.

[2] T. Rahman, H. T. Nguyen, A. Tarazona, J. Shi, Y.-J. Han, E. Franklin, D. Macdonald, S. A .Boden, Characterization of Epitaxial Heavily Doped Silicon Regions Formed by Hot-Wire Chemical Vapor Deposition Using Micro-Raman and Micro-photoluminescence Spectroscopy, IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, 8 (2018) 813-819.

[3] H. T. Wu, H. T. Nguyen, A. Y. Liu, D. Macdonald, Reconstructing Photoluminescence Spectra at 79K from Heavily Boron Doped Regions of Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, 26 (2018) 587–596.

Lab of the Month: August 2018

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Department of Physics - Kent State University 

 Group members (all affiliated with the Liquid Crystal Institute, Kent State University: departments of Physics and Chemical Physics): From left to right, top row: Prof. Oleg D. Lavrentovich (Trustees Research Professor), Amit Bhowmick (graduate student), Dr. Mateusz Andrzej Mrukiewicz (visiting researcher, Military University of Technology, Poland), Runa Koizumi (graduate student), Dr. Sergij V. Shiyanovskii (senior research associate), Taras Turiv (graduate student). Middle row: Hend Baza (graduate student), Greta Babakhanova, (graduate student), Mojtaba Rajabi (graduate student). Front row: Ruilin Xiao (graduate student), Bingxiang Li (graduate student), and Olena Iadlovska (graduate student).  

Group members (all affiliated with the Liquid Crystal Institute, Kent State University: departments of Physics and Chemical Physics): From left to right, top row: Prof. Oleg D. Lavrentovich (Trustees Research Professor), Amit Bhowmick (graduate student), Dr. Mateusz Andrzej Mrukiewicz (visiting researcher, Military University of Technology, Poland), Runa Koizumi (graduate student), Dr. Sergij V. Shiyanovskii (senior research associate), Taras Turiv (graduate student). Middle row: Hend Baza (graduate student), Greta Babakhanova, (graduate student), Mojtaba Rajabi (graduate student). Front row: Ruilin Xiao (graduate student), Bingxiang Li (graduate student), and Olena Iadlovska (graduate student).
 

Professor Oleg Lavrentovich is world renowned for his research work on liquid crystals. He is a Trustees Research Professor at the Kent State University as well at the editor of the Liquid Crystal Reviews journal. Much of his research investigates their practical application. For example, his research group have previously established how to cloak electrodes by using liquid crystals to bend the light around them. They have even researched how to use them as mediums to carry particles such as bacteria. 

Some of their more recent work demonstrated how electric fields can trigger unique structural response in nematic liquid crystals. This in turn can propagate solitary waves that are trapped in all three spatial dimensions. The group used the LTS350* to control the temperature around the sample. Their work demonstrated the rich dynamic behaviour of the liquid crystal system and the ease of control, which paves way for further study. 

The Lavrentovich Research Group are further planning SAXS/WAXS experiments with their CSS450 rheological system and sheared liquid crystals. We look forward to seeing more work from them soon. 

 

*The LTS350 has been superseded by the LTS420 offering a large temperature range and better temperature control to 0.01°C.
 

Lab of the Month: July 2018

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College of Engineering - Swansea University

 Left: Harry Lakhiani, Middle: Dr Wing Chung Tsoi, Right: Dr Jérémy Barbé, with the Linkam LTS420E-PB4 chamber in the Raman laboratory.

Left: Harry Lakhiani, Middle: Dr Wing Chung Tsoi, Right: Dr Jérémy Barbé, with the Linkam LTS420E-PB4 chamber in the Raman laboratory.

Dr. Wing Chung Tsoi is a senior research officer at Swansea University, having joined in 2014. His research group focuses on advanced characterisation techniques to further understand the structure-property-performance relationship of photovoltaic cells, with the aim to improve device stability and power conversion efficiency. Dr Tsoi’s group are also working on new applications of organic/perovskite photovoltaic cells, including for indoor light harvesting, semi-transparent solar cells and solar cells for space applications. 

The group have used a Linkam RH95 humidity system alongside the THMS600-H to conduct in-situ Raman Spectroscopy to further understand the degradation kinetics of perovskite photovoltaic cells [1]. Furthermore, they are using a Linkam LTS420E-PB4 to measure Raman spectroscopy and local photocurrent at the same device region, which provide direct correlation between degradation and the optoelectronic properties. [2] They are also using the Linkam LTS420E-PB4 to do extreme thermal cycling on organic solar cells to study their feasibility for space applications. [3]

Dr Tsoi’s group particularly specialise in advanced Raman techniques, and stability characterisation. Their aim to improve the function of perovskite photovoltaic materials could have great benefits for the future development of low cost, high efficiency solar cells.

[1] K.E.A. Hooper, H. K.H. Lee, M. J. Newman, S. Meroni, J. Baker, T. M. Watson and W. C. Tsoi, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 19, 5246 (2017)
[2] J. Barbé, V. Kumar, M. J. Newman, H. K.H. Lee, S. M. Jain, H. Chen, C. Charbonneau, C. Rodenburg, W. C. Tsoi, Sustainable Energy & Fuels, 2, 905 (2018)
[3] H. K. H. Lee, J. R. Durrant, Z. Li, W. C. Tsoi, J. Mater. Res. 33, 1902 (2018)
 

Lab of the Month: May 2018

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Chalmers University of Technology – Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
 

 Dr. Maths Karlsson (back left), Post Doc Mikael Andersson (front left), PhD. students Yuan-Chih Lin (back right) and Carin Eklöf-Österberg (front right), with their optical setup together with a Linkam system

Dr. Maths Karlsson (back left), Post Doc Mikael Andersson (front left), PhD. students Yuan-Chih Lin (back right) and Carin Eklöf-Österberg (front right), with their optical setup together with a Linkam system

Dr. Maths Karlsson is one of the research group leaders in the Division of Energy and Materials at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology since 2017. His research group focuses on investigating key fundamental properties of functional materials, mostly energy relevant oxides.

Their on-going projects involve different fields, such as materials for hydrogen storage, ionic conductors for solid oxide fuel cells, inorganic luminescent oxides (phosphors) for solid state white lighting devices, and so on. The major objective is to understand the mechanistic aspects of dynamical excitations, such as vibrations and diffusion, in relation to defects on the atomic length scale, and to correlate those microscopic properties to the functional macroscopic properties of the materials.

They use the Linkam THMS600, combined with a commercial Raman spectrometer and a home-made optical setup for performing different spectroscopic experiments, and synchrotron facilities for time-resolved experiments. These temperature-controlled experiments provide versatile means to probe static and dynamic states of the materials including crystal structure, vibrational modes and atom diffusion, and electronic structure. Their research findings will benefit the development of new energy materials for future “green” technologies, such as high-power light emitting diodes coated with single-phase phosphors of multi-colour light emissions sustaining high energy efficiency up to very high temperatures.
 

Lab of the Month: April 2018

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Chemical and Biological Engineering – University of Sheffield

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Dr Denis Cumming is a lecturer in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Sheffield. He joined the university in 2010 after gaining a PhD from Imperial College on his work on solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). 

Building on his work on SOFCs, his main research interests lie in developing stable nanostructured materials for improved high temperature electrochemical electrodes and catalysts. His group particularly focus on several key areas including high temperature in-situ spectroscopic and chemical characterisation, as well as carbon measurement and control at high temperature. They are using the Linkam TS1500EV stage to conduct their high temperature, operando infrared characterisation studies.

The future application of such work is immense. It could help lead to the improvement of fuel cells and electrolysers, electrochemical sensors, gas separators and heterogeneous catalysis. We look forward to seeing more of his work in the future. 
 

Lab of the Month: March 2018

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UK Centre for Astrobiology – University of Edinburgh

 Charles Cockell is a Professor of Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh. 

Charles Cockell is a Professor of Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh. 

The UKCA was established in November 2011 and formally opened at the National Museum of Scotland in April 2013. Their core academic interest is the study of life in extreme environments and its application to understanding the habitability of planets. The UKCA is an international partner with the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Since its inception they have developed a range of initiatives, including the development of the world's first underground astrobiology laboratory which it uses for planetary analog research. It has developed research that has spanned across the study of life in extremes and the habitability of extraterrestrial environments. 

Some of the UKCA’s current projects include: the study of the habitability of icy moon oceans, the colonisation of rocks and the way in which communities develop in rocky planetary crust and the response of microorganisms to multiple extremes.

Professor Charles Cockell and his group are currently using the THMS600 stage to simulate the subsurface of the icy moons Europa and Enceladus. In particular it is used to study habitable microenvironments within ice, the phase behaviour of various brines, and how physiochemical parameters related to habitability change as fluids freeze. They also plan to use the THMS350V to understand the surface of these icy moons and how potential biosignatures may be transported, deposited, and preserved during eruption from cryovolcanic plumes.
 

By Tabassum Mujtaba

Lab of the Month: February 2018

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University of East Anglia - School of Pharmacy 

 Dr Sheng Qi and Dr Muqdad Alhijjaj with their Linkam system. 

Dr Sheng Qi and Dr Muqdad Alhijjaj with their Linkam system. 

Dr Sheng Qi is a reader in Pharmaceutics at the University of East Anglia, having joined in 2007. Her group having been working closely with leading pharmaceutical and excipient companies to further research on pharmaceutical processing and formulation development. 

Their current research interests include formulation development manufactured via hot melt extrusion/injection moulding, FDM 3D printing, electrohydrodynamic processes, drug-polymer/lipid miscibility and solubility and polymer facilitated drug solubilisation in biological fluids to name a few. 

Dr Qi and Dr Alhijjaj are using the Linkam MDS600 alongside TASC (Thermal Analysis by Structural Characterisation) as a rapid screening method for drug-polymer miscibility for formulation development. They also used TASC to look at the maximum percentage of drug that could be solubilised within particular polymers. Their results allowed them to select for the most suitable polymeric candidates for formulations. Their methodology has so far proved to be comparable and faster than current screening protocols.
 

Linkam Case Studies 2017

Researchers all over the globe use Linkam stages in many different and exciting applications. McCrone Microscopes & Accessories has been an official Linkam dealer for many years and recently featured some of our favourite case studies from 2017 on their website and quarterly newsletter - Nanographia.  

Read how Linkam stages are being used to study moon rocks and rare-earth minerals, and how 2D materials can be used as non-degrading coatings for metals. 

Next Stop California!

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For our next show this year we’ll be heading to San Diego, California for the 2017 AAPS annual meeting and exposition. The event is being held at the San Diego Convention Centre and kicks off on the 12th November and ends on the 15th. 

If last year is anything to go by it will be a great meeting with talks, symposia and workshops covering a wide range of topics. If you’re heading to AAPS this year, come over and talk to us on booth 2911 about your sample characterisation needs. We’ll be taking along our humidity and freeze-drying systems, our Optical DSC450 and several other systems optimised for pharmaceutical sample characterisation. We look forward to seeing you there!
 

One Small Sample for Man…

 Exploration of our universe may help uncover some of the key questions behind our evolutionary history. 

Exploration of our universe may help uncover some of the key questions behind our evolutionary history. 

The universe is thought to be approximately 13.8 billion years old, with the earliest forms of life on Earth thought to have begun as early as 4.1 billion years ago. Through the process of evolution simple carbon-based life forms evolved into some of the most complex forms of life we see today, yet some of the key questions as to how life began remain elusive. Some theories even suggest that life in the form of micro-organisms may have been brought to Earth from elsewhere in the Solar System through meteorite impacts. 

Our planet is just one of an unimaginable number. Understanding the evolution of planetary bodies in our solar system is one way we may attempt to provide an answer to our origins. 

The members of the Planetary and Space Sciences (PSS) discipline at The Open University have been involved in some of the major space missions including Stardust, Genesis, Rosetta and Cassini-Huygens. Based in Milton Keynes, the group have developed and built scientific instruments that have flown on some of these space missions. The OU planetary scientists are also world renowned for their laboratory analysis of extraterrestrial samples including Moon samples collected by Apollo and Luna missions and meteorites from Mars and asteroids.

In late 1960s and early 1970s during the manned Apollo and unmanned Luna missions to the Moon, surface samples were collected for laboratory analysis on Earth. Almost 50 years on, these same samples are being analysed using modern instrumentation to reveal new insights into the geological history of the Moon, including one of the most exciting discoveries of lunar water. These new and exciting results from recent laboratory studies on lunar samples were complemented by remote sensing data returned by a number of recent lunar missions such as India’s Chandrayaan-1 and NASA’s LRO discovering water at the lunar surface. 

 Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing, with astronaut Buzz Aldrin. 

Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing, with astronaut Buzz Aldrin. 

We recently visited the lab of Dr Mahesh Anand at The Open University where they have measured water and its hydrogen isotopic composition in the mineral apatite in lunar samples by various Apollo missions. Dr Alice Stephant recently joined Dr Anand’s team at the OU and together they are planning to analyse water and hydrogen isotope composition of water trapped in tiny inclusions of melt (called melt inclusions or MI) in moon rocks, sourced from lunar volcanoes.

Moon rocks from various Apollo missions, including Apollo 11, were carefully cut and polished to approximately 30 µm thickness, and are ready for MI work. 

Using the Linkam TS1400XY, samples can be heated up to approximately 1400 °C, the temperature reached within lunar volcanoes, and quickly quench cooled to give the samples a smooth, glass like finish. These samples can then be analysed for their water contents and hydrogen isotopic composition using other analytical techniques. 

 Dr Anand using the TS1400XY to look at mineral ilmenite, which is one of the constituents of the “dark” patches (called mare) on the moon. 

Dr Anand using the TS1400XY to look at mineral ilmenite, which is one of the constituents of the “dark” patches (called mare) on the moon. 

Compositional and isotopic analysis is a way of fingerprinting the origin and sources of various chemicals in our solar system. By exploring the potential sources of water and comparing samples from other planets within our solar system, it may help towards better understanding the evolutionary history and the formation of our solar system.

Analysing the composition of water is not only important in terms of tracing its origin but can have important implications for the future exploration of the solar system. 

The discovery of water may hold the key into the development of rocket fuel on the Moon itself. The establishment of a permanent base on the moon with its own source of rocket fuel would allow space exploration missions to delve deeper into space, by avoiding the huge amounts of energy required to escape the strong gravitational pull of the Earth.

We would like to thank Dr Anand for showing us his laboratory and the department and for discussing his work. We look forward to catching up soon. 

By Tabassum Mujtaba

European Materials Research Meeting

 Warsaw at night - the largest city and capital of Poland.

Warsaw at night - the largest city and capital of Poland.

We'll be in Warsaw next week for the European Materials Research Society 2017 fall meeting. The conference will consist of symposia, oral and poster presentations and a plenary session, providing an international forum to discuss advances in the field of materials science.

If you're at the show, come along and take the chance to see some of our new products, including the new T96 controllers and Linkpad. We’ll be on booth 9!

Linkam shows prototype Plunger

Imaging of biological samples embedded in vitrified ice has become of great interest in recent years as it provides several advantages: the biological sample is in a fully hydrated state with superior preservation down to ultra-structural level, a vitrified sample is naturally compatible with the vacuum required for EM / CLEM (Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy) and cryo-fluorescence provides very low photo-bleaching and high signal to noise imaging.

Preparation and handling of vitrified samples normally requires special skills and techniques. The novel design of the Linkam Cryo Plunger makes this a simple and reproducible process.

Linkam were showing the prototype at MMC in Manchester recently...

Investing in the Digital Age

The UK government has announced today its plans to invest in groups researching advancements in battery technology. Their aim is to push towards a Modern age method of energy storage and usage. 

Everyday consumers are now able to generate their own energy through means such as solar panels and store it in batteries for later use. Traders will be able to purchase this stored energy and trade this directly with the national grid, helping to save billions of pounds for consumers. 

Already much work has been invested in the area of battery research. Our April Paper of the Month focused on improving the capacity and conductivity of lithium ion batteries while another looked at improving the efficiency of a thermophotovoltaics system

If you would like to learn more about Linkam stages and their application in battery research and renewable energy, contact us directly or talk to us in person at the EMRS fall meeting in Warsaw. 

Sun, Shows & Photos

April proved a busy month for shows. 

Our first stop for the month was the historical city of Krakow for the 2nd European Conference on Pharmaceutics. Here we showcased two of our new systems, the DSC450 and Freeze Drying Vial System (FDVS), which drew plenty of interest amongst the pharma crowd. It was a great show which further illustrated the importance of sample characterisation within pharmaceutical research and Linkam’s role within it. 
 

 Krakow is the second largest city in Poland and one of the oldest, dating back to the 7th Century.  

Krakow is the second largest city in Poland and one of the oldest, dating back to the 7th Century.  

The next stop was the beautiful port city of Bordeaux, which was home for this year’s Focus on Microscopy conference. We took along our cryo-CLEM stage, CMS196M, which fit in well with the show’s theme of new techniques in electron and fluorescent microscopy. 

The evenings saw us take the tram into central Bordeaux where we were lucky enough to try the renowned Bordeaux wine and French cuisine. 
 

 A great relaxing spot just outside the Palais des Congrès de Bordeaux where this year’s FOM was held.

A great relaxing spot just outside the Palais des Congrès de Bordeaux where this year’s FOM was held.

Our last stop in April was the University of Lincoln, where this year’s Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry meeting was held. TAC focused on the uses of differential scanning colorimetry across a wide variety of different applications, and as such was the ideal venue to showcase the new DSC450.

 The famous Lincoln cathedral which held the title of the world’s tallest building for 238 years.

The famous Lincoln cathedral which held the title of the world’s tallest building for 238 years.

We’ll be continuing our European travels later this month, stopping first in Stockholm for the 6th FIP Pharmaceutical Sciences World Congress 2017, followed shortly by Budapest for the 1st Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry Conference. We look forward to seeing you there!

Upcoming Shows

 Krakow, home of this year’s 2nd European Conference on Pharmaceutics, will be the first of our stops over the next few weeks.

Krakow, home of this year’s 2nd European Conference on Pharmaceutics, will be the first of our stops over the next few weeks.

April will be a month packed full of shows and new products. 

Our first show will be the 2nd European Conference on Pharmaceutics in Krakow which we will be attending from the 3rd – 4th April. 

Next in line is the Focus on Microscopy show in Bordeaux from the 9th – 12th April where we will be bringing along our Cryo-CLEM stage, CMS196M

Our final event of the month will be the TAC 2017 Conference in Lincoln from the 10th – 12th April.

We will be showcasing both of our new systems, the DSC450 and the Freeze Drying Vial System (FDVS), so make sure you come along.