Let Us Show You How To Setup Your Linkam System

First of all, apologies for the delay in getting these videos up to the site, but now at last you can access many different videos showing you how to load samples, set up the cooling system, align the stage on a microscope and lots more great stuff.

All you need to do is register with Linkam as either a customer or distributor and you will be given access to this great new area.

These videos make setting up your linkam system a piece of cake. Please let us know what other videos you would like to see on the site. Better yet, if you have a video of your experiment, maybe a time lapse video made using our video capture software, please contact us and we will put it in our video section.

Maybe you have a great non standard way of using your hotstage, take a look at this video to see just one of the possibilities.

Here is an example of the kind of videos you can find in our Customer/distributor Video section of our website.
This video shows how to connect the TS1500 vacuum stage to the vacuum gauge and vacuum pump.

Does Size Matter, Or Is Quality More Important?

Whenever we talk about imaging a sample with a customer, all too often it’s all about size.

Let me give you an example. Imagine customer A wants to buy a hotstage and he wants to make a movie of his birefringent sample morphology changing with temperature.

I think, hmm ok, so he’ll want fast frame rates so as not to miss the sample changing. He may need a large field of view to see more of his sample and polarized light so he can see the structural changes.

But he tells me,

‘I need to use 100X objective lens with a 10megapixel camera’.

He’s from the ‘more is more’ school of thought. ‘I need the sample as big as possible and I want as many pixels as possible’.

Here are the problems with this way of thinking. Using the highest magnification lens will not always give you the information you are looking for. A lower magnification lens with a higher NA and a flatter field with better colour correction may enable you to see far more detail and likely a significantly larger field of view.

What are you trying to observe with your optical set up? Are you looking for particles around 1 to 5um in size? If it’s the general change in morphology and birefringence of the sample, you may be better off with a lens with lower magnification that gives better colour correction and lets you see more sample area and depth of field. By only seeing a tiny part of your sample you may be missing the big picture.

What about imaging technique? Without phase contrast, many biological samples are nearly too transparent to see at all. Understanding when to use, phase, DIC and Hoffman modulation are critical to getting the right set of lenses for your sample.

So what about all those millions of available pixels? There are three key things to consider

1.Are you getting more detail/information by capturing more pixels, or are you just making an image big enough to cover the side of your house?

2. How well do the pixels represent your image? Is the senor you’re using to capture them, any good?

3. Are the amount of pixels more important than the frame rate of your live image?

You can’t turn a low resolution image into a high resolution image by capturing more pixels. All you are doing is capturing more of the same lousy pixels. You don’t get more information.

If you have a well resolved high resolution image then capturing as much detail as possible so that you can zoom in and perform image analysis can be a worthwhile investment.

However, if you are performing a dynamic experiment that involves your sample changing rapidly, your compromised frame rate may mean you miss capturing the crucial image. Not only that, but if your PC is also capturing other data such as temperature and sensor information, the significant strain on processing power may cause the system to fall over.

In our experience around 1.3megapixels is easily enough for any hotstage work and will give fast enough frame rates to observe dynamic sample phase changes. Make sure that those 1.3megapixels are the highest quality you can get. This means using a camera with a CCD sensor and not CMOS. If possible it should use multiple CCDs for red, green and blue and be peltier cooled to remove any noise from the image.

If you want to read some more and play with an interesting interactive tutorial that lets you try different lens magnification, NA and C-mount lens, take a look at this one on the Nikon MicroscopyU site. There's a lot tech stuff, but the tutorial is pretty simple.

Of course, there is no point in going for a high spec CCD digital camera if you have not first set up the microscope correctly. The greatest investment you can make is to learn the fundamentals of microscopy by taking a class at a recognized institution. McCrone College of Microscopy is arguably one of the best facilities in the world to learn all kinds of imaging and spectroscopy techniques. You can start by learning lots more about the basics at the excellent Molecular Expressions website which has many interactive online tutorials. I hear the McCrone College of Microscopy is also introducing a distance learning module that I’m sure will be excellent.

To take a look at which lenses we recommend for use with our hotstages, please take a look at our Optical Accessories page.

Where are all the Linkam Users? Google Scholar will find them

So what's the scoop with Google Scholar?

Well, those whacky brainiacs at Google have come up with yet another awesome little feature that will hopefully be pretty useful to all the existing and wannabe Linkam users out there.

Basically it is a search tool that enables you to search all the online scientific journals for keywords of interest.
So if I'm interested in doing some temperature control work with polymers and a THMS600 stage. I just type 'THMS600' and 'polymer' into the search bar and bingo, you get meaningful search data from only scienfitic sources.

It is still in Beta format, but it seems to work perfectly already, in fact, so much so that we have just added a Google Scholar search bar our website. It's on the right side, below all the buttons.

When you see a product on our site that interests you, just use the scholar search bar to see who else has been using that product and what sort of work they have been doing. There are literally thousands of Linkam hotstage users out there and many of them have published their work.
Give it a try, it's pretty awesome.

Linkam; Always Pushing The Boundaries with World's Smallest Pancake

Today, we had a breakthrough at Linkam. We are always searching for ways to improve our stages and develop new and exciting applications, it was therefore, no surprise to us that the THMS600 temperature control stage would be the perfect instrument to create the smallest and probably tastiest pancake in the world.

Heating Rate: 130C/min
Hold Time: 3mins
Temperature stability: 0.01C
Pancake diameter: 9.56mm

For more information on the THMS600 please visit our website

We Want You...Linkam Is Hiring

Linkam is expanding again.

We are totally committed to growing our R&D department to accomodate all the requests for custom designs and modifications. If you are either an electrical or mechanical R&D guy or gal looking for an exciting opportunity to design novel innovative scientific instruments at the cutting edge of technology and scientific research, then please do not hesitate to contact us with your CV and a brief description of how you think you could contribute to our team.

Mech Designer
Must have at least 3 years experience of mechanical design using 3D design software, such as solid edge, solid works etc... Experience of scientific instruments and optics is an advantage as is knowledge of machining techniques. Must have at least degree or equivalent qualification.
A competitive salary and benefit package is based on suitability to the role.

Electrical/software Designer
Must have at least 3 years experience designing electrical equipment, particularly instrumentation and interfacing microcontrollers. Software programming and experience of
labview is also desirable.
Must have at least degree or equivalent qualification.
A competitive salary and benefit package is based on suitability to the role.

Linkam Is Going Silver

First they were black, then they were blue (well sometimes a little grey, if we're being honest) and now they are brilliant silver.

I'm talking about our beautifully made hotstages of course.
We are always looking into ways to make our stages look as good as well as they function and after years of the cobalt blue anodizing we have now found an even better (read; nicer) finish.

As of next month many of the stages will be shipped with a new powder blasted anodized silver finish.
This anodizing, known as clear anodizing, shows off the excellent aerospace grade aluminium as well as being incredibly tough and resistant to almost all reactive chemicals that end up in our stages. The powder blasting takes some of the reflections and machining marks off the stage and adds to the overall reassurance of quality.

These treatments to the finish of our stages are just one of the many ways in which we are striving to improve not just the look but the function of our products.

Skype To The Rescue

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a skype video call must be worth....I don't know.... a billion? Well, however many it is, it is a lot.

We are all skyped up to help you with your linkam equipment. We have high resolution web cams hooked up and ready.
I know skype is not exactly new, but it hasn't been particularly brilliant for what we want to do with it.
Sure, it was ok to talk to your Granny half way around the planet. You could use the webcam to show off your new baby in blocky pixelated stop start streaming video, with the occasional screen freeze and last second desperate cry of ''I'll call you on the landline,' as the connection crashed terminally.
We just didn't want showcase our products, or demonstrate usibility, in a stressful environment of wondering when will it crash.
Skype is so much better now. We have already been using it to quickly solve problems with several customers, which would have taken many emails, pictures and possibly phonecalls. With one skype video call, a problem can be solved in minutes or even seconds.

So how are we going to use Skype?
In sales support, we want to be able to show you exactly how to use your linkam equipment. Whether it is loading and running a sample or installing it on your microscope. If you are interested in a system, we can run a sample for you and show you how we did it.
In R&D we can show you how your prototype is coming on, what we propose to do next, show 3D renderings of the design and rotate them in real time.
In technical support we can help you fault find and recommend solutions without having to send back the equipment.
What's more Skype is free to use!!!!! All you need is a decent webcam and a microphone. Many modern laptops already have this built in. Just go to www.skype.com and download the software, it only takes a few minutes. It detects your microphone and camera and that's it, you're ready to give us a skype video call.

Contact Us to find out how to setup up a skype call with us.
We are ready to talk and show you what you need to start or continue working with your Linkam temperature control systems.

The New Website Is Here

After much blood, sweat and too many tears, the new Linkam website is live. (Insert sound of crowd going wild with excitement).

The new site will make navigating to the product of interest far more intuitive. You can now search by temperature range or by application.

There are secure login areas that will contain all kinds of technical content such as 'installation videos', 'sample images' and 'product manuals'.

We will be working hard to flood these areas with all sorts of interesting content, so please register your equipment with us at this registration page

Please let us know what you think of the site and whether you can spot some annoying grammatical errors that we have no doubt missed. No special prizes.....sorry.

New Packaging for T95: High Tech Testing

With the launch of our high tech new T95 system controllers we have had to get brand new packaging designed specifically to ensure the TFT touch screen controller arrives at its destination working perfectly.

We spent hours designing a test protocol that would closely simulate the way couriers and airline freight workers carefully handle boxes packed with analytical equipment.

Yes, I realize the video has fallen over sideways, if anyone knows how to correct this, please let me know. Post comment below.

The Amazing Vacuum Tweezer

Linkam Adds The Amazing Vacuum Tweezers To All THMS Style Stages

If you've never used them you probably don't know what a big deal they are. The vacuum tweezer is basically a thin stainless steel shaft with a tiny suction cup on the end. The tweezer is attached to a tiny vacuum pump via a flexible silicon tube. You control the vacuum by placing your finger over the hole on the shaft of the tweezer.
Picking up 0.2mm thick cover slips with fine nose metal tweezers is pretty difficult but with the vacuum tweezer it's a piece of cake. Better yet, there is no danger in scratching the pure silver heating element surface which decreases heat flow to the sample. There's also no danger of getting greasy finger prints on the cover slip. Removing the coverslip sample assembly becomes very simple indeed, as you can see in the video clip below.
Vacuum Tweezers will be shipped free of charge with all THMS based stages from the 1st of June. They are available to purchase separately from Linkam, please contact us for more info.

At last a new ECP that's easy to use

Believe it or not we have been looking for a better solution than the big green water circulator we use to cool stage body temperatures and peltier elements for years. We have tried so many different types of cooling device, water circulators, and cryo circulators and yet we still keep coming back to the ECP. We even built sophisticated peltier controlled heat exchangers but the costs just outweighed any benefit. We need a sealed system (you can't have open water tanks in a lab, health and safety folk go crazy about that kind of thing) that was low cost, completely reliable and enabled long term ultra high heating experiments to take place safely. The problem has been that with the ECP there were always difficulties in removing any trapped air in the system. Well the new ECP has solved that. It is super easy to use and fill. There is a special priming button to remove trapped water and the unit is slightly smaller. It just keeps getting better.

Here's a short video clip of how to install the new ECP which will start shipping in the next couple of weeks.

Linkam Company Photo

I recently watched a TED talk by Sergey Brin and Larry Page which basically blahed on about the awesomeness of google, google gadgets, the googling of yet more google and the philanthropic extension of their company, 'google.org'.

It was all great stuff and if you have some time, sure who does? go check out TED.COM for tons of brilliant lectures about all kinds of fascinating stuff. The thing that caught my attention was how Larry described work life at google. It seems the staff there have a jolly old time of it up at their headquarters in Mountin View, California. It has probably got something to do with the swimming pool, the volleyball courts the canteen serving free gourmet lunches (who says there's no such thing) the pool tables or maybe the annual ski trip to Sqauw Valley. It all sounded great until Larry flashed up the staff photo taken at that year's ski trip. Damn, what a miserable bunch all dressed in white on a white back drop of the snowy mountains. Er...dude, those guys don't look so happy. He even joked that they didn't get too many job apps after flipping that up on the web and they took it down.

So I thought, you know what, our employees seem a pretty happy content bunch. We need a picture of us all together to show everyone how awesome we are. So we moved all our plug in electric cars (does this make us sound googley?) and gathered in front of our sales and marketing building to capture what I hope will be first online staff pic of many. This picture makes me really proud. Ok, we don't have a pool, volleyball courts or a canteen just yet, but like Google, we are the best at what we do.

Pic taken by our resisdent snapper Jim Hayward

Horiba Jobin Yvon Visit Linkam

Lots happening here at Linkam as usual. We are ramping up the production of our video user guides and have added some cool new studio lights with diffusers to ensure even better lighting. Lighting is key in filming apparently. Ok so we're not making a Hollywood epic here but we have had a lot of good feedback from customers and distributors. Installation and setup are a breeze when you have someone literally showing you how to do it.

So this segues nicely into why I'm posting today. We had Dr. Izhar Ulhaq from Horiba Jobin Yvon here in the UK visiting us yesterday showing off the relatively new XploRA bench top raman system, so that we could get some pics with our hotstages mounted on it for product brochures designed specifically for the Horiba sales guys and film some installation videos to help the installation engineers get our heating stages up and running on the raman systems. These videos will be shipped on CD with the heating stages, but also be available from a special download area on our new website......going live next week (fingers crossed)

Thanks for coming round Izhar. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues in the future.

The First Post

Welcome to the first post on the linkam thermal blog. We all start out with the very best of intentions to get into a consistent blogging routine with regular updates and this blog will hopefully continue along those noble lines. However, we won't blog for blogging's sake and will endeavor to keep the content relevant.

So what's happening at Linkam?
The launch of our new website is imminent. We are ironing out the last few details before it is launched into the googlesphere and hopefully not into an abyss of web anonymity.
You will be able to register your software, check for updates, view 'how to' installation videos, sign up for skype technical video support and apply for upgrades to your existing setup.

We also have a number of interesting new projects in the pipeline. Our humidity generator is going through the final testing stages and should be available in the next few weeks. Capapble of generating a humid environments from 5 to 95% in a matter of minutes at a fraction of the cost of other similar instruments currently on the market.
We are working on an ultra high temperature stage using completely new technology that will enable incredibly fast heating rates all the way up to 2000C in many different types of corrosive atmosphere.
New higher temperature heating elements for our existing stages are being tested as I type and will work with our versatile T95 system controllers.
Work continues with our unique incubator which will be the only microscope based incubator capable of being temporarily battery powered while cells are transported from the large scale incubator to the microscope with full range of temperature and gas sensors ensuring the atmosphere is perfectly sustained during transport.

So lots going on. Stay tuned for more updates in the not so distant future.