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. 
 

Best Served Cold

 A still image of the drying front of a sucrose sample.

A still image of the drying front of a sucrose sample.

Freeze-drying microscopy is a technique used to identify vital formulation parameters for products undergoing lyophilisation. Linkam have created compact freeze drying solutions ideal for both research and industry. Read more about freeze drying microscopy and the Linkam freeze drying stages here

A Linkam Anniversary

A huge congratulation to Brian and Jackie Golder who recently celebrated their 20th anniversary as part of the production team at Linkam. We celebrated their hard work and dedication by throwing a small party, where the whole team got together to tell old stories and enjoy delicious finger foods and desserts. 

 The husband and wife duo are experts in wiring and soldering the electrical connections in Linkam stages. 

The husband and wife duo are experts in wiring and soldering the electrical connections in Linkam stages. 

Brian and Jackie were awarded a Linkam trophy in honour of their hard work, as well as £1000 toward a holiday destination of their choice. 

From everyone here at Linkam, thank you both for your hard-work and commitment, we hope you have the holiday of a lifetime. You deserve it!

 

New Products, New Shows

 Find out which shows we’ll be travelling to this year on our  Events  page. 

Find out which shows we’ll be travelling to this year on our Events page. 

We're excited to get going with this year's projects and have plenty of new products that we will be launching throughout 2017. For regular updates keep an eye on the website, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. 

We'll also be exhibiting our products at several trade events across the globe. You can find details of the shows Linkam, and our distributors, will be attending in 2017 on our Events page. 

New to Linkam – the THMS-CKE600

We’re continually aiming to improve our stages and customer satisfaction, that’s why we’ve launched the brand new THMS-CKE600. 

 Two of the stages under production. 

Two of the stages under production. 

Building on the success of the original THMS600, this variant scraps the metal interior for a soft spongey one. The Linkam engineers also removed the heating block and piping for some much tastier jam and cream. 

 The THMS-CKE600 stage body after anodisation.

The THMS-CKE600 stage body after anodisation.

After some steady rolling and layering, the base of the stage body was complete. 

 The finished product. 

The finished product. 

Although the THMS-CKE600 can not do the classic heating and cooling, it tastes pretty nice.

Unfortunately this is just a prototype!

Season’s Greetings from Linkam

2016 has been an amazing year here at Linkam. With the continuing success of the company, Linkam is forever growing and we’ve had the pleasure of adding five new additions to the team this year.  

We’ve also had the opportunity to attend many different shows all over the world, giving us the chance to showcase our stages, talk to customers and learn more about how our stages are being used in real-world applications. 

This year has also seen several new stages and system launches, which have all proved highly popular in a variety of different fields. The Linkam team are always working on new developments. You can keep up to date with all our new releases on our website, as well as on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Let’s end 2016 with a throwback to a Linkam Christmas favourite: 

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and happy new year!