Freeze Drying, a Warm Partnership, and a Cool Product

The new tint assembly on the Linkam Imaging StationAs we get closer to the Christmas party season, and the risk of winter illness, no doubt you are stocking up on pills and potions to keep you going - but spare a few minutes to consider the science behind that useful pill or packet... because it's not just coffee that comes freeze dried.  

In conjunction with our friends at leading freeze drying company BTL (Biopharma Technology Ltd) we are pleased to announce a new upgrade for the Lyostat freeze drying microscope.

Critical formation parameters of pharmaceutical products (those pills and potions) can be identified using freeze drying microscopy.

This process - also known as Lyophilisation - is a popular technique for product preservation in the food and pharmaceutical industry. A material is dried by freezing it, reducing the pressure and then causing the ice within it to sublimate. The ice crystals spontaneously change from solid to gaseous. 

Historically the only parameters that could be studied were collapse temperature (the failure of a frozen product to maintain its structure, due to an incorrect temperature during sublimation) and eutectic melt temperature (the temperature at which a crystalline solid melts).
But now thanks to the new upgrade more parameters can be examined. Crystallization phenomena, the effect of controlled heating/cooling on the ice crystal growth and solute structure can all be observed. Skin formation potential can also be investigated; this is where some freeze drying products form a skin due to a concentration of solute that is relatively impermeable and impedes the drying of product below it.  

All this information is important in the development of pharmaceuticals.

BTL now offers a new analyser collar and tint plate assembly that fits the Imaging Station. This enables scientists to view their sample with polarised light and a first order red filter. This gives a more in depth look at the crystal structures within the frozen sample and makes it easier to ascertain the critical temperature of the sample.

Screen shots of samples viewed using polarised light The imaging station is designed specifically to be used with temperature controlled stages. The camera mounts directly above the objective lens and hence no light is lost passing through secondary lenses and reflectors. Transmitted light is provided by a 100W halogen bulb and reflected light by a collar of LEDs focused at the working distance of the objective lens. Standard microscope objective lenses ensure great image quality.

The assembly can be retrofitted to any existing system with an imaging station, and will be offered as standard with all new Lyostat3+ systems.

If you are interested in the upgrade assembly, an imaging station or a new Lyostat3+ freeze drying microscope, please contact the BTL sales department: 
By Caroline Feltham