Out of adversity comes an opportunity


 Thermo's DXR-Micro Raman with Linkam System

At 6.03 am on Sunday 11th December 2005, a huge blast at Buncefield fuel depot on the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead caused chaos and serious devastation to a lot of industries in the surrounding area, including the building that was home to the Thermo-Fisher-Scientific instrument group. The severity of the explosion caused irreparable damage, which gave Thermo-Fisher the opportunity to make a brand new state of the art facility from scratch and within 2 years, the new site was up and fully functional.

Around two weeks ago, Ian Pearce and I got the chance to experience this magnificent new building. The reason behind the visit was to get a firsthand look at the Thermo-Fisher DXR Micro Raman spectroscopy system and confirm compatibility with a few of our Linkam stages, namely the THMS600LTS420 and TS1500.

Linkam would like to thank Thermo-Fisher for the hospitality that was shown to us during the visit and also for reminding us all of the age old saying “out of adversity comes an opportunity”. 

Posted by Ricky Patel

New Video Brochures with Linkam's Very Own Original Soundtrack

We have recently added new video brochures for the TS1500 and BCS196 Linkam stages to the website. These have a stylish new look, and Linkam’s own unique soundtrack, written specifically for the Linkam video brochures by Olli Cunningham of Amo Music Ltd who writes soundtracks for movies, TV shows and adverts.

It’s pretty hard to get the soundtrack just right to compliment the quality of our stages. We tried and tested a few different soundtracks, and although a bit of rock might get you jumping around the room air guitairing, it’s probably not suitable for showing off our products.

Thanks to Olli we now have a dedicated Linkam soundtrack, perfectly suited to the sleek designs of the Linkam stages.

Posted by Rosie Hider

Equipment without Training is Inventory

National Guard white powder identification training

As much as I would like to, I can’t take credit for the title of this piece. This catchy little phrase came from one of our U.S. National Guard Bureau students.

We train the National Guard in the identification of white powders and other suspicious materials. I think the above catchphrase sums up nicely the value of training - and I’m including the training one gets from a sales rep - as well as more formalized instructor-led hands-on training.

I can’t tell you how many times we would arrive at a customer’s laboratory and see equipment still in boxes, even years after the purchase, because the end user couldn’t justify the funds for training to their immediate supervisor.

National Guard white powder identification training

Let’s stop building up our inventory and start actually using the equipment for its intended purpose — to solve problems. Of course using the hardware properly is just one half of the equation, the other half resides between your ears. Being able to make informed analytical judgments is more powerful than the equipment itself. That’s an investment in yourself—probably the most important piece of equipment in today’s laboratory. 

Guest Posted by Chuck Zona, Vice President and Dean of Hooke College of Applied Sciences, IL, USA 


Linkam CSS450 System used in Polymer Crystallization studies

The Linkam CSS450 Shear System has been used in exciting research by the Polymer Technology Group at the University of Salerno to study polymer crystallization enhanced by flow. An improved understanding of flow-enhanced crystallization can help to tailor advanced transformation processes like injection-moulding and extrusion.

The Linkam CSS450 was chosen for its ability to accurately control changes in temperature and shear rate on the micro scale. Professor Pantani said that "Prior to our having the CSS450, understanding the analysis was just qualitative. Now we are able to complete unique quantitative analyses. We have been able to calculate the evolution of the nucleation density during the crystallization under shear using our own specialised image analysis software."

Thanks to Professors Giuseppe Titomanlio, Roberto Pantani and their colleagues at the University of Salerno for sharing their interesting application with us.

Posted by Rosie Hider

Linkam StageArt - An alternative view of temperature controlled stages

Droplet shatters on silver heating element'But is it art?'  Have you ever said that while staring at some modern sculpture, perhaps the latest Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin offering?

So how do you define art?

Here's my shot at the definition.  I believe that an artist creates something that results in an emotional response in another human being, or that can change the way somebody thinks about something, even if it is just for a moment.

If this definition works for you, it means you don't have to limit art to paintings, sculptures, photographs, songs, prose or in fact anything specific at all.

I believe our design guys at Linkam are artists.  Whenever they design anything, it is always with the thought of how it can be made to look amazing.  It's not just a temperature controlled stage, a scientific tool, it's something more than that.

So when Jack Verhoeff and Jim Hayward, two of our finest production engineers, started to take some alternative pictures of our stages just for fun, we thought why not share them on the web.  

The Flaming THMS600

But is it art?  Absolutely.

If you have a few moments, please take a look at some amazing alternative views of Linkam stages in the StageArt gallery.


Posted by Vince Kamp

Product News – Small Angle Scattering at Elevated Temperatures

Linkam Scientific's heating stages are increasingly being used in the x-ray world, and a recent product developed with Thorsten Hegmann at the University of Manitoba means that normal transmission and grazing incidence studies can be carried out using the same heating/freezing stage.

Working with a Rigaku SAXS spectrometer, the Linkam HFSX350-GI can allow spectral data to be acquired across a temperature range of -196°C to +350°C under evacuated conditions.

Torsten Hegmanns group have been using the new stage to successfully characterize their liquid crystal nanoparticle composite materials.

 Posted by Ian Pearce

New Linkam TV Channel not available on any cable network

Linkam TV Goes Live

It is hard to believe that not one of the major cable networks took up our offer to add this TV channel as part of their premium subscription package.

The good news is that we can pretty much broadcast what we want.

The new Linkam TV channel has an exciting array of 'on demand content' from the world of Linkam temperature control stages.  We have video product brochures, samples in applications such as freeze drying, tensile testing and liquid crystals and even the almost popular pancake videos.

If you have videos of your samples on Linkam temperature controlled stages, please do let us know, we would be happy to add them to the collection.


posted by Vince Kamp 


New Edgecam software means even more awesome 3D designs possible

HS1500 prototype made with Edgecam

Our R&D guys have just got back from the latest Edgecam training workshop to accompany the latest update to the software and they are all totally buzzing with the possibilities opened up to them.

But what is Edgecam?

Well it's amazing CAM software (computer aided manufacturing) that integrates seemlessly with the Solid Edge 3D design software we use to design our instruments.  The exciting part of Edgecam is that it enables you to machine incredibly complex shapes that you would previously have to cast.

In a nutshell, our design guys can make cool organic shapes and curves that are virtually impossible to program in any other way.

We will try and get some video footage of some of this amazing machining in action, but for now you can be sure that the new range of Linkam heating and freezing stages are not only going to be the best performing stages, but also among the best looking scientific instruments available.

posted by Vince Kamp

Upcoming Freeze Drying Webinars

Freeze drying in action

Linkam have been manufacturing the FDCS196 freeze drying stage for years, and have produced some pretty cool images & videos using samples on this stage. Check these out in our online gallery or on YouTube. But what is freeze drying all about?

Well if you want an introduction to freeze drying, or even just a refresher then you may be interested in SP Scientific's free LyoLearn webinars that are on offer in February.  There are four sessions covering a range of topics from the basic theory to the applications of freeze-dry microscopy techniques for solutions and solids.

The full course outline can be accessed here, though it is not limited to these topics.  Renowned freeze drying expert - Dr. Jeff Schwegman - will be running the sessions, which will be held on the following dates;

Lecture 1 - 4th February 2011
Lecture 2 – 11th February 2011
Lecture 3 - 18th February 2011
Lecture 4 - 25th February 2011

For more info check out LyoLearn webinars on SP Scientific's website and register click here.

Rosie Hider

Olympus again attempts to scale the microscopy mountain

The past two weeks have marked the arrival of all things new here at Linkam - the New Year was quickly followed by the official unveiling of our new website and now, we have managed to get our hands on a brand new Olympus BX53 microscope! (Be it only for a month).

The highly anticipated BX53 is part of the BX3 range of upright microscopes that Olympus hope will be at the cutting edge of both clinical and research microscopy. The new design allows for a large level of flexibility for the users to “define their own working environment” allowing for unique customisations without affecting the quality of the images seen. One of the big features of this new BX53 is that it is the first ambidextrous microscope from Olympus, which gives a high level of freedom to users in regards to where they place controls.

Another improvement Olympus have made is in the aesthetics department; the sleek and stylish design is visually very pleasing on the eye, and is made even better when one of our Linkam THMS600 stages are placed upon it!

We would like to thank Olympus UK for lending us this equipment and we hope to be carrying out a lot more product testing in the near future.

Ricky Patel

New Website Goes Live

First of all, I feel I should apologise for the lack in updates to this blog.  The rather weak excuse is that we have been slaving away at developing a completely new website.

This new website should be even easier to navigate and will hopefully create a significantly less busy and calm browsing experience than the crazy bombardment of info that you may have come to expect from many other scientific instrument sites.

Please do let us know what you think.

There has been all sorts of developments at Linkam lately and we will keep you informed right here on the blog in the coming weeks.

Vince Kamp

The Black Art of Casting Silver Heating Elements


Those of you familiar with our heating and freezing stages know that we use a silver heating element. You may also know that the element is cast using the lost wax principle which has been used to make jewellery and bronze statues for thousands of years and the process remains in principle relatively similar today.
However, when casting a bronze statue or a bit of jewellery, it is only the surface finish that we are interested in.  When it comes to casting a silver heating element used in our Linkam stages, you not only need a perfect finish on the top surface where the sample sits but there cannot be any voids in the structure (except the channel for liquid nitrogen.) as this will effect the high resolution temperature control.
This important fact is what has kept us awake at nights trying to formulate the perfect conditions to create the perfect consistent cast.  There are so many parameters that need to be perfectly controlled that it is nothing short of a miracle that we turn out as many perfect blocks as we do.  Even then, there are many more steps to complete the heating element where things can go wrong, I can't believe that our assembly engineers haven't gone totally crazy with frustration.  (See image above: The reject box)
We are always trying new ways to improve the process.  Over the last 30 years our engineers have pretty much read everything there is to know about casting and talked to dozens of experts in the field.  Nobody has managed to cast our heating elements as well or as consistently as we can do it here at the factory.  In fact two of our engineers are currently in Germany talking with one of the leading casting machine manufacturers to discuss our casting protocol and see if they can help. 
So next time you take a look at that little gleaming heating element in your hotstage, have a think about the amount of work that went into it and perhaps spare a moment to consider that in the thousands of years that people have been casting, we may just be the best at it. 


India's Man of Steel

Steel Sample at 1250C in TS1500V with Argon purge
One of India’s leading metallurgical experts – Dr. Pravash Chandra Chakraborti - from the University of Jadavpur, Kolkata (Calcutta) visited Linkam last week to discuss the use of our TS1500V stages in viewing the fatigue and fracture of steel samples at 1250C.
We used this opportunity to demo our new Oxygen traps used in conjunction with vacuum and pure Argon (99.9%) to create an inert atmosphere limiting sample oxidation at higher temperatures.

Dr.Chakraborti was also very impressed with the working environment here at Linkam, especially mentioning the “Helpful staff” of our R&D department, and “excellent knowledge” (of our products) shown by all members of the team.

We have found Dr.Chakraborti’s expertise in metallurgy invaluable in our quest to improve our stages for this type of study...maybe he can stop by Delhi on the way home to impart his knowledge on the workmen of the Commonwealth Games!

Ricky Patel  - Technical Support


No need to renew the Pirelli, Linkam is working on a 2011 calendar

Linkam calendar photography by Jim Hayward and Jack Verhoeff

The Pirelli calendar is a corporate trade gift, not available for purchase.  It has been in publication since 1964, although it was cut in 1974 due to the world recession, but was then resurrected 10 years later and is still in publication today.

Just like Pirelli, the Linkam calendar will be not be sold in stores.  It too will become famous for it's outstanding photography and limited availability.  However, the months in the 2011 Linkam calendar will feature artistically photographed world famous Linkam hot-stages rather than scantily clad glamour models.
Depending on the success of this calendar, 2012 may well feature scantily clad glamour models posing with hotstages.

Fresh Blood at Linkam


Blood being sheared in CSS450 shearing cell (50X Olympus Objective lens)

There's nothing quite like fresh blood to shake things up and really get a company buzzing along with renewed vigour and motivation.
 I'm not, as you may have thought, referring to the use of our optical shearing stage to study the deformation and aggregation of blood cells under shear stress - as seen in the above image - although that may have been a nice but blatant plug for this fantastic instrument.  No, I am referring to the influx of yet more new talent here at Linkam.


We have recruited another couple of new R&D guys, James Wilkins, who comes to us from Goodrich Engine Control Systems and who rides quite possibly the loudest Triumph Bonneville in Surrey, is working with our mech R&D team and Tom Phillips, who just started last week, fresh with his M.Eng in electronic engineering straight out of University of Newcastle, will be working with our electronics and software guys to develop all kinds of new controllers, notably the new humidity generator.

We also have a new Stores controller.  Russ Forward has, in just a few short weeks, totally revolutionised the control of our stores and has lots of new ideas to improve the efficiency even further.

Lastly, we have Ricky Patel, also a recent graduate, but from University of Surrey and a Medicinal Chemist, joining the sales and marketing team in a customer technical support role.  Ricky will be knocking out lots of great 'How To' videos and updating all the video manuals not to mention helping customers with installation questions.

These guys have all brought buckets of enthusiasm to Linkam and there is no doubt that they will help us develop and support lots of great new products in the future.

T95 Manual Now in Spectacular Technicolour


Life is better in colour.  I'm not sure who coined that expression, but it's certainly true enough.  Black N' White is just so moody and depressing.


We decided that manuals are also better in colour, so we have invested in a sweet colour laser printer and have started to print our T95 system controller manual in colour.
Yes it's quite a bit more expensive to do this, but the manual looks great and the images are so much easier to interpret.  Hopefully this will make our systems even easier to operate.  The other manuals will eventually also be printed in colour, we just need to take some much better pictures first.  Please don't forget that many of our systems have also got video manuals to help you set up.  You will need to register on our site to get access to these.

We are always looking for new ways to improve our products, so if you have anything you would like us to change, please do let us know.  We are totally committed to improving everything we do here, yeah I know that's a cliché but it happens to be true.  How many other companies do you know, that print their manuals in colour?

Queen's University in Canada Selects Linkam Temperature Stages to Characterize Ferroelectric Liquid Crystals

image sourced from Prof Lemieux's Group at Queen's University
Market leaders in temperature controlled microscopy, Linkam Scientific Instruments, have been used as temperature stage suppliers to Queen's University in Canada for ten years to study the properties of ferroelectric liquid crystals.
The research program of Professor Robert Lemieux and his Kingston, Ontario- based team focuses on the rational design of chiral and achiral molecular components of ferroelectric liquid crystal mixtures based on principles of self-assembly and molecular recognition.
Understanding the thermal properties of liquid crystals is crucial to the establishment of structure-property relationships that are useful in the design of new materials with improved properties. For example, in the design of 'de Vries-like' liquid crystals, the focus is on changes occurring at the SmA-SmC phase transition, both in terms of the order of the phase transition as well as changes in physical properties such as birefringence. As such, the use of thermal polarized optical microscopy allows the observation of texture changes at the SmA-SmC phase transition that provides useful information on such changes, and the Linkam LTS-350 hot stage used provides precise temperature control for this purpose.
The design of the LTS-350 hot stage also makes possible the integration of thermal polarized optical microscopy with the automated Liquid Crystal Analysis System (LCAS-1) by LC Vision in a convenient, turn-key fashion. This is used to measure the spontaneous polarization and optical tilt angle of ferroelectric SmC* liquid crystals induced by a variety of chiral dopants. These measurements are normally performed as a function of temperature using the LTS-350 hot stage.
The Linkam Liquid Crystal Pro system is in use by scientists all over the world. Leading academic and industrial research scientists have made the LTSE350 their preferred choice because of the high degree of control of heating rates, accuracy and long term stability for temperature controlled studies using light microscopes and other spectrometer platforms. It is optimised for liquid crystal sample analysis having fast heating rates up to 30°C/min and excellent thermal stability over the range from -196°C to 350°C. The stage consists of a large area temperature controlled element with a 100 Ohm platinum resistor sensor embedded close to the surface for accurate temperature measurements. It may be operated with Linksys32 DV Imaging software and a QICAM digital camera to provide fully indexed images at predefined points in the temperature profile. For a completely integrated solution, the system can be used with the Linkam Imaging Station to provide an ergonomic platform for easy sample handling without the need for a stand-alone optical microscope.


content originally posted at Nanowerk

Control Your Linkam Stage Within Image Pro Plus from Media Cybernetics


The folks at Media Cybernetics have recognized that their customers want to control their Linkam temperature control stages within Image Pro and so their software ninjas have built Thermo-Pro, an Image-Pro plugin for the acquisition of images including temperature information from Linkam stages. 

Thermo-Pro is supported in Image-Pro Plus 7 and works on Windows XP, Vista and 7 on any PC that meets the minimum requirements to run capture in Image-Pro and that have an on-board RS232 port. It supports all cameras that are natively supported inside Image-Pro, including the range of cameras from QImaging.
The temperature information is read directly from the Linkam T95 system controller and is burned into the bitmap of the image for easy visualisation. Images are constantly saved straight to hard disk for secure data storage even in the case of power failures and the module is capable for capturing images for timed intervals during multiple ramp experiments.


Hanging out with the Liquid Crystal Elite


This week, Linkam is attending the 23rd International Liquid Crystal conference in Krakow along with 650 of the world’s top liquid crystal scientists. 
With over 180 oral presentations and 1000 posters, the show covered numerous new developments with ferroelectric LC’s including work on nanoparticles, traditional nematic materials and some blue phase work. 
Many delegates are existing Linkam users and have provided really positive feedback about our products as well as a host of ideas for future instrument developments.
 Linkam is exhibiting with LC-Vision from Boulder, Colorado, highlighting the integration possibilities between the LCAS-3 system and the Linkam LTSE350 hot stage. 
A complete system enables accurate temperature control with image capture to be combined with a range of electrical measurements, including the elastic constants K11, K22, K33  rotational viscosity and dielectric properties (parallel and perpendicular). 
Thanks to all those who visited our booth and a special thanks to Monika Marzec whose organisation made the exhibition run so smoothly.


Even The Design Gods at Apple Get It Wrong Sometimes


A few weeks ago, we enthusiastically announced we had solved the problems with the new LTS420 heating element.  The facts are, that although we managed to turn out a few excellent elements, we just could not get a consistent quality that we were satisfied with.


Not that I'm trying to justify our mistake, but I would like to point out that even the legendary Steve Jobs and his army of design gods at Apple also occasionally get it wrong.
You may have heard that Apple launched the new iphone 4.0 with a major design flaw that results in total loss of reception when you hold the phone in specific way.  Their response:  Buy a special rubber case to stop shorting out the antenna, or 'You're holding it wrong'

Well Steve, that's just not cool.  We don't play that way at Linkam.  Our LTS420 works perfectly, we're just not sending them out because we could not get a consistent surface finish.   Well, now we can.  So we'll be shipping the real thing and replacing all the LTS350 elements we sent out in the meantime.
Are Apple going to replace all the thousands of iphones with the badly designed antenna when they finally correct the design?  I doubt it.

Announcing we had this awesome new stage before we were entirely sure it was ready was an oversight that has caused both our customers and us all kinds of problems and for that we are truly sorry.

Ok, so we got all excited that we had designed this amazing instrument featuring a pure silver heater capable of heating a microscope slide up to 420C at 50C/min with 0.1C control and wanted to switch it out for our LTS350 stage which could only go to 350C at 30C/min as soon as possible, that was wrong, but we have put it right.....and have learned a very valuable lesson in the process.