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.
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.
So what's the scoop with Google Scholar?
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.
Linkam is expanding again.
First they were black, then they were blue (well sometimes a little grey, if we're being honest) and now they are brilliant silver.
After much blood, sweat and too many tears, the new Linkam website is live. (Insert sound of crowd going wild with excitement).
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.
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.
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.
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.