Under the Spotlight: André Puensch

This month we introduce André Puensch.

André joined Linkam from his native Germany, he is a skilled engineer in the Production Department and one of his jobs is to cast the pure silver heating element which is at the heart of every hot stage. He is also the brains behind the short film: "behind the scenes: a tribute to 30 years" which shows some of the processes involved in making a Linkam instrument.



How long have you worked at Linkam?

To be precise- on the 25th February it has been two years and four months.

What is the best part of working at Linkam?

Part of it is the working in a fantastic young, team, that conquered the world with their temperature controlled stages. The other part is the chance to try out my own ideas and to suggest improvements.

Tell us about your studies and work experience. What were you doing before Linkam?

After school, I started an apprenticeship as a Mechatronics in a medium- sized company in Dresden, Germany. I had the opportunity to gain knowledge in working metal, especially laser cutting, bending, milling and assembling. I always wanted to have a degree, but I did not want to go to University. In 2006, I started a four year long, part-time evening course to become a ´state- certified engineer `. After finishing the course, I moved to England and started here at Linkam.

Why did you choose a technical career?

When I was a little boy, I was fascinated by metal and the fact that it could be bent into any shape. At the age of 10, I got given a wooden truck, and started experimenting with it, using LED’s to illuminate it. This was followed by many more little projects, each of which encouraged me to pursue a technical job as a career.

What makes you passionate about science/ engineering?

When you compare the technology from 15 years ago to the state-of-art technology available today, the differences are remarkable. Everything is smaller, quicker and better. I am convinced that our products will shape the future and improve our lives. Who knows, maybe in 15 years scientists will find a way for humans to live on Mars, using one of our stages.

What do your parents do?

My mum is an engineering draughtswoman. Over the years, she has worked for civil engineers, road engineers and interior designers. My dad works as a logistics manager for a big company which produces solar cell modules.

How would you describe your average day at Linkam?

The only average thing is the way in to Linkam and the way back home. No day is the same at Linkam. New work means new challenges. Even when I do the casting of our blocks with the same machine settings, the results are always different. That’s why every block is unique.

What are your hobbies?

I do have very time-consuming hobbies. First of all I love building models. Five years ago, I started building a remote-controlled bendy bus in scale 1:12.5 in metal, which I will hopefully finish in the first quarter of 2013. Furthermore, I like making videos, for example, I have made several documentaries about Linkam.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

I would love to have a nice little cottage and live there with my wife and kids. Still working at Linkam, I would like to be a production planner and help improve production processes -in quality and time.

And lastly, where did you go on your last holiday?

Being from a different country means that you will spend most of your holidays going back to your family or having them over and showing them the area where you live. Me and my wife spent our last proper holiday travelling around Scotland. Using a tent we did a round-trip in August 2008. What we didn’t expect was that it would rain for two and a half weeks.

Well that's it for now.

We hope you are enjoying the snap-shot into the lives of the people that play a part in creating your Linkam stage. If there are any questions you would like us to answer, please email us at info@linkam.co.uk.

Partner Focus: LAT Labor-und Analysen-Technik GmbH

LAT at Achema 2012

Following quickly on the heels of the first partner focus earlier in the month, we stay in Germany but move to the north, to Garbsen, a suburb of the historic city of Hannover, where we meet LAT Labor-Analysen-Technik GmbH.

LAT GmbH was founded in 1971 in Hannover as a general distributor of scientific equipment and laboratory supplies, working across both the research and industrial markets. Starting life as Raczek Analysis GmbH, the company morphed into LAT GmbH in 2006, growing steadily over the years and now employing 20 staff.

In addition to their large portfolio of scientific and laboratory instrumentation, and perhaps a jewel in their crown, LAT are masters at the production of customized glassware, employing a dedicated team of glass-blowers. At a time when the world of production is increasingly mechanised it's absolutely fantastic to have these skills in demand.

LAT A Master at Work

Mending Broken Hearts

In the UK this week 45% of the adult population will have spent an estimated £650 million on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts to celebrate Valentine's Day, but let’s spend a moment thinking about the science – because life and love just aren’t the same without a healthy heart.

At the Artificial Heart Program, at the University of Pittsburgh, PHD student Salim E. Olia and his colleagues are using the Linkam CSS450 shearing stage on research projects involving characterization of rheological properties of red blood cells (RBCs). This is related to the blood flow in artificial organs and other blood-contacting devices under development. The potential effect of blood-contacting devices on RBC deformability is one of the most critical issues because it's extremely important for tissue perfusion and oxygenation.

Salim E. Olia said: “The Linkam shearing stage is critical for our research. The principal benefits are an extremely small sample size and simplicity of the data interpretation.”

This research is vital: a replacement heart needs to work seamlessly with the body and not become a hindrance to the blood flow.

For a brief introduction to the design of an artificial heart click here.

By Caroline Feltham

From Russia With Love...

Are they worth their weight in gold?

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching many of you may be scratching your heads (and digging deep into your wallets) wondering how to express your love for that special someone – what better way to do so than with something gold. 

If you do go down this route, there is a chance that the precious metal originated from the Chukotsk Peninsula in the extreme northeast of Russia. The main industries on the peninsula, which is within a stone’s throw of Alaska, include: hunting, fishing and the rearing of reindeer. The main exports of the region however come in the form of precious commodities pulled from the land; the mining of tin, lead, zinc, coal and, of course, gold which are vital to the local infrastructure.

The Metasomatic rocks of the peninsula contain deposits that are known to lead to rare-metal mineralisation which makes the area a hot-bed for mining. Metasomatism is the chemical alteration of a rock or mineral caused by the flow of hydrothermal fluids, from igneous or metamorphic sources, which leads to the addition or replacement of chemicals in the rock's pores. This often leads to the formation of new minerals including gold ore deposits.    

The metals and ions in the process are transported in fluids, and their interactions in the rock's pores are of vital importance, so the study of fluid inclusions from the rocks are integral in the understanding of the formation of these ores.

This subject has caught the eye of many researchers and academics across the world including PhD Anna Kurguzova who is working on her thesis at the Saint Petersburg State Mining Institute. She is using the Linkam THMS600 stage to help her describe the physical and chemical processes of the ore-forming process. The Linkam stage is ideally suited for the study of fluid inclusions because of its reliable heating rates and its 0.1c temperature accuracy.

We wish Anna the best of luck in her thesis. Maybe one day, her findings will lead to gold being more available and therefore more affordable for all.

By Ricky Patel

PS – I do not accept any blame if any of your partners are now expecting to be lavished with gold gifts next Thursday.



Partner Focus: Resultec

First thought – a still from a Tarantino movie, but on closer observation the team from Resultec are revealed.

Every month on the Linkam blog we will be profiling our business partners: first up, one of our German distributors, Resultec.

Started in Cologne in 1985 by Dr Manfred Feustel and his brother Michael, the company specialises in the development and sale of products for microscopy, with particular expertise in spectroscopic techniques.

Early on, in 1990, Manfred had designed and developed an ellipsometer working in the UV-Vis spectral range and later developments saw the introduction of a minimum ATR (Attenuated Total Reflectance) cell for small microlitre volumes of sample. In 2009 they added the Rheonaut to their portfolio, a product that couples FTIR spectroscopy with rheology. Checkout their website for details of these products.

Now based in Illerkirchberg in southern Germany and one of the major Linkam partners in the country, they have been excellent in promoting Linkam products during the past 15 years, helping to distribute our products throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

By Ian Pearce


Under the Spotlight: Jim Hayward

This month Jim Hayward (AKA Mark, after British cyclist Mark Cavendish) is under the spotlight. 

Jim is a Manufacturing Engineer who works in production. You may remember him from his starring role in the short Linkam film 'behind the scenes; a tribute to 30 years' in which he narrowly missed being nominated for Best Actor at the BAFTAs.

One of his main tasks is to help with the construction of the TS1500 systems, including the heating elements. 

How long have you worked at Linkam?

It will be 10 years in March

What’s the best part of working at Linkam?

The people I work with. I wanted to say the TS1500 ‘scratching’ but working in such a fun environment makes getting up in the morning that little bit easier.

Tell us about your studies and work experience. What were you doing before Linkam?

Can I skip the ‘studies’ part? (Not the highlight of my life). My first job was dressing up as a lion at Chessington World of Adventures and since then no other job has quite filled the fun factor. Prior to Linkam, I had several different jobs  including; vacuum cleaner salesman, van driver/electricians mate, fork lift truck driver and finally (where the science starts) in a biotech company.

Why did you choose a manufacturing career?

I’ve never been much of a ‘thinker’, so a career where my eye for detail and dexterity skills are used in creating beautiful bits of scientific kit suits me down to the ground.

What makes you passionate about science?

I think the ‘inner me’ has never really grown up. Hearing about science and technology always keeps you feeling youthful as you never stop learning.

What do your parents do?

They are both retired.

How would you describe your average day at Linkam?

That’s the great thing about working at Linkam; there is no ‘average’ day. Every day something different is going on, different stages to build, different problems to overcome, but guaranteed, there’ll be plenty of laugh’s.

Has the company changed much since you started working here?

Yes, and No. I’ve seen people come and go, new products created, new buildings taken on, but at its core, it still feels like the family company I joined 10 years ago.

What are your hobbies?

As anyone here can tell you, I have a passion for anything bicycle related and enjoy nothing more than getting trussed up in my lycra and half killing myself trying to beat Vince’s time up Box Hill. I also love photography (which can be seen in the Linkam Stage art section)

Where do you want to be in ten years?

I would love to be island hopping up and down the Dalmatian coast on a private yacht, exploring the many islands on a far superior bike than I have at the moment.

And lastly, where did you go on your last holiday?

My wife comes from Croatia, so every summer we spend 2 weeks with her parents on the island of Krk. The island has beautiful weather, amazing food and I even managed to spend some time cycling.


Well that's it for now.

We hope you are enjoying the snap-shot into the lives of the people that play a part in creating your Linkam stage. If there are any questions you would like us to answer, please email us at info@linkam.co.uk.

P.S If you are wondering what 'scratching' is, here is your answer.

The TS scratching procedure is a slow but critical part of the TS heater assembly procedure.  During the build, the thermocouple is attached and poked through the aperture of the heater. It is then surrounded by cement (to ensure contact with the heater cup).  We are then left with a small lump of cement surrounding the platinum sensor.  The ‘scratching’ comes into play here, as this is how we level the lump of cement and sensor to the bottom of the cup.  This is important because if it is not flat to the cup, the sample window will ‘rock’, therefore not making good thermal contact, thus making the entire heater next to useless. The scratching can take anywhere from 20mins- 1hour+ to achieve the flatness required.  This was the motivation behind the scratching scene’s in André’s Linkam video 'behind the scenes; a tribute to 30 years'

Bye for now

Caroline Feltham


The Butterfly Effect

DMDBS (a butterfly shaped molecule) is a component of materials that can be tested using the TST350 stage.

Thermoplastic polymers mean serious business: in 2008, the global market for Polypropylene had a volume of 45.1 million tonnes, which led to a turnover of about $65 billion.

DMDBS, or dimethyl dibenzylidene sorbitol, is a butterfly-shaped molecule that is used as a nucleating agent in the manufacture of Polypropylene (PP).

PP is a commercial engineering plastic that is tough and flexible and is used in numerous products from packaging to textiles to banknotes. It can be tailored to specific applications during manufacture making it very versatile. Despite being commonly used, the relationship between how the material is synthesised and processed, and its physical properties is unclear. As a result, scientists are continuing to study this popular material.

Guruswamy Kumaraswamy, and a group of scientists from the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), India, have used a Linkam TST350 Stage to look at the influence of this molecule on the mechanical characteristics of the plastic film. DMDBS precipitates out of a hot melt of PP and forms crystalline nanofibres which form a mesh. At cooler temperatures, PP crystals nucleate on the surface of these nanofibres.

PP pellets were coated with DMDBS using a DMDBS solution in acetone. These pellets, with 0.2%, 0.4%, or 0.8% (by weight) DMDBS were used to create a film of a constant thickness of 0.45mm. These films were tested using the Linkam TST350 stage.

It was observed that at TDIE=200°C voids form within the 0.8% DMDBS film during extrusion. This, the scientists hypothesized, was the reason why the 0.8% film exhibited a decrease in yield stress and modulus values compared to neat PP film and the 0.2% and 0.4% film. The 0.2% and 0.4% DMDBS PP film exhibit a ≈50% increase in modulus and yield strength compared to neat PP.

So in summation, a low concentration of DMDBS (0.2, or 0.4% DMDBS) created a stronger film, but higher concentrations (0.8%) had a negative impact on the film strength.

By Caroline Feltham 

Stargazing: In the sky and in the lab


Illuminating the dark: looking for answers in the stars

This week we have all been able to see some real stars on TV for a change.

The BBC 2 programme Stargazing Live featuring Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain hosted three nights of stargazing and discussion. With guest experts, and link-ups to observatories around the world, we saw some of the amazing sights of the universe from the comfort of our sofas (you can catch the programme again this Saturday).

But it's not the only place to see something extraordinary. Anyone with a microscope is uniquely privileged to see a world that a great number of individuals will never see - from the swirling of the cosmos to the slow almost imperceptible movement of a colloidal star glass.

A colloidal star glass is a polymer composed of repeating chemical units arranged in the shape of a star.

Michel Cloitre from the Matter and Soft Chemistry, ESPCI Paris Tech, together with scientists from the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser, have been studying the response of a colloidal star glass to large-amplitude oscillatory stress (LAOS) and strain fields using the the Linkam Optical Shearing System - the CSS450.

The scientists use a recently published framework for analyzing non-linear responses to LAOS based on the analysis of the whole stress waveforms as a sequence of physical processes, in order to measure the points of static and dynamic yielding. By doing so, they have shown that the stress-amplitude dependence of the dynamic yield stress can be linked to the strain-rate-amplitude dependence via the form of the steady-state flow curve.

To read about their experiments please see the paper: “Oscillatory yielding of a colloidal star glass” Journal of Rheology / Volume 55 / Issue 4 available

For further reading on the physics of colloidal glass click here.

Happy stargazing

By Caroline Feltham  

What the MOF are Metal Organic Frameworks?!


More than just toy cars? – advances in fuel cells are making “Clean Energy Cars” a realistic mainstream possibility

Happy New Year!

The team here at Linkam is always interested to know how our stages are influencing scientific research around the world.  In studies such as the one below, it is exciting to know we are playing a part in the breakthrough of a potential source of renewable energy.

Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) are very promising new materials that may be valuable in an almost endless number of different applications. They are crystalline compounds consisting of Metal Ions which are co-ordinated to Organic Molecules to form structures that have a good level of porosity.

These MOFs are already known to have many uses, such as in drug delivery and other biological applications, but currently, their main use is as gas storage molecules for hydrogen, carbon dioxide,  polar vapors and various other substituted aromatics.

It is the hydrogen storage capabilities of these frameworks that have caught the eye of budding researchers all over the globe as they strive to speed up the development of non-petroleum based energy carriers such as fuel cells. Hydrogen gas in particular seems like a highly viable option because of its high energy content in comparison to gasoline and also the fact that its by-products are not as damaging to our environment.

MOFs are highly suited to for the purpose of Hydrogen storage as they have a very high surface area to absorb the molecular hydrogen. So for example, you can dramatically increase the hydrogen storage capabilities of an empty gas cylinder just by lining it with a layer of MOFs.  The hydrogen molecules are taken up by the MOFs, but there is not much of an activity energy, in the form of heat, required to liberate them again.

With the increased investment into the search for more renewable energy sources, many academic groups have focused their research into finding more flexible and useful frameworks.  One group in particular, headed by Herve Leclerc from the Universite de Caen Basse-Normandie, France, looked into the effects changing the oxidation state of a particular MOF (in this case MIL47) has on its Hydrogen absorption properties.

The group used the Linkam CCR1000 stage coupled to a raman spectrometer to see what effect the alteration of the oxidation number of MIL47 had on the change in activation energy required for liberation of the Hydrogen adsorbed in the framework.

The interesting results of their experimentations can be found here.

Posted by Ricky Patel

Under the spotlight: Lisa Knight

This month Lisa Knight is under the spotlight. Lisa is Purchasing Manager in our accounts department and is responsible for spending Linkam's hard earned cash on everything the company needs.

How long have you worked at Linkam?

Thirteen years and seven months.

What’s the best part of working at Linkam?

The best part is that you know that the work is never boring: there are always new products to source and buy.

Tell us about your studies and work experience. What were you doing before Linkam?

So many things – I could write a book, but I’ve been buying for twenty years: marine products, air conditioning goods, scientific commodities at Rheometrics Scientific and now very similar here.

Why did you choose a buying career?

It just happened upon me. I was good at it, and I love spending.

What makes you passionate about science?

I’m passionate about science due to the fact that there is always something new to learn.

What do your parents do?

Retired, they both had their own businesses.

How would you describe your average day at Linkam?

Busy, hectic, and rewarding.

Has the company changed much since you started working here?

Vastly- more staff, more buildings, more products and consequently more work.

What are your hobbies?

Reading, I just love books - any books are great but I mainly read escapist fiction. I also love creating window dressings, it is very calming. Nature is a passion and Im a keen Twitcher.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

Anywhere, it doesn’t matter so long as I have my family around me.

And lastly, where did you go on your last holiday?

Prague, I go there often to see my son.

Thanks Lisa. Next month we ask the same questions as we continue to introduce the team to you.

Thanks for reading.

By Caroline Feltham

Behind the scenes: A tribute to 30 years

As enthusiastic readers of our blog, you will no doubt all be aware that we have just celebrated 30 years in business. 

No? Well you can read about how we celebrated by clicking here.

Not wanting to miss an opportunity to once again mention how proud we are of the 30 year milestone, one of our excellent engineers, Andre Punsch, has made a short and entertaining video tribute to the work that goes into building the world's finest temperature control microscope stages.

You'll notice that the engineers involved in building our TS1500 high temperature stage have taken the opportunity to remind the design guys just how long it takes to make the current design of 1500C heating element. 

Thanks to Andre for not only making a great little film about our company, but also for bringing a bit of his typical dry humour to a contentious matter between departments.  Nicely done.

Posted by Vince

Winter Workshop on Cryo Characterisation

Users got to grips with the Correlative stage with hours of hands on experimentation on the one day course.

Last week, Linkam's correlative cryo stage, was again stealing the show– this time as part of a workshop held by the Oxford Particle Imaging Centre.

The workshop on soft x-ray microscopy sample preparation and pre-characterisation was held at the prestigious Henry Wellcome building for Genomic Medicine, which is part of the University of Oxford campus. The event provided an opportunity for the attendees to get hands on experience with sample preparation and then pre-characterisation of cellular specimen by fluorescence cryo-microscopy.

The day-long affair practically demonstrated all the steps required in the process from the grid preparation and plunge freezing, all the way through to the pre-characterisation of the sample using the Linkam correlative cryo stage.

I would like to thank Kay Grunewald and Christophe Hagen for organising the event.

By Ricky Patel

Colourful Clues

When we think of a laboratory, we often have an image of a staid, white environment with little colour.

In reality science is a vibrant subject, with some of the most fascinating chemical reactions heralded by stunning colour changes which are clues to what is happening to the molecules at the atomic level.  

Scientist Krystian Roleder, from the Institute of Physics, University of Silesia, has used a THMS600 Linkam stage to study birefringence measurements for a number of years.

The popular THMS600 temperature stage is used to study many applications where high heating/freezing rates, accuracy and reliability are required. He said: “This stage is indispensable in my scientific work.”  

Birefringence is also known as double refraction and is a property of a material. When light passes through a material it is split into two beams, a phenomena similar to how the light from the sun is bent and split by droplets within the air to create not just one but several beams of light – a rainbow. 

A rainbow is created by splitting beams of light- known as refraction. To test his samples, Krystian Roleder heats them within the stage which creates a corresponding phase change within the material. The clue that this has occurred is the stunning colour changes observed.  

In one experiment, he looked at birefringence in perovskite single crystals PbZr0.80Sn0.20O3.

Slowly changing the temperature from 215oC to 220oC created a change of structural phases within the single crystal: it moved from having an antiferroelectric phase to an intermediate (ferroelectric) one, and then to a paraelectric phase.

Photos show the dynamic colour changes caused by the molecular reaction and changing phase.Each change corresponds with a vibrant change in birefringence. Using false-colour techniques (a way to display visual and non-visual parts of the electromagnetic spectrum) such changes are projected onto the computer screen, and it is all thanks to a little temperature stage.

By Caroline Feltham


The Future of Calorimetry Burns Bright




The Thermal Methods Group meeting was held at GSK in Ware

Ware, a small town in Hertfordshire was chosen as the location of the Thermal Methods Group (TMG) meeting, “Living & Breathing Calorimetry: Biopharmaceutical & Biological Applications of Isothermal Calorimetry”.

Held at the impressive GSK site, which is undergoing a multi-million pound renovation, this TMG meeting could well define the future of Calorimetry (the science of measuring the heat of chemical reactions or physical changes) and how it can be used in the development of Biopharmaceutical materials. Linkam showcased our THMS600 and DSC600 stages with the Imaging Station.

Students and professors from all around the world gathered at the site to hear lectures from a number of experts in Isothermal Calorimetry. The TMG is a special interest group of the Analytical Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry. It mission is to promote awareness of all thermo-analytical, calorimetric and related techniques by a wide range of activities, including regular scientific meetings, training workshops and publications.

The whole event was well-run and very informative, but the highlight of the day was undoubtedly Professor Anthony Beezer’s fantastic acceptance lecture. In August this year he was awarded the SETARAM-ICTAC Award for Calorimetry to recognise all of the work he has put into this field.

This one day meeting gave a brief, but interesting insight into the world of Isothermal Calorimetry, and I would like to thank the TMG for organising it and letting us be a part of this event.

By Ricky Patel

Under the spotlight: James Wilkins

This month James Wilkins is under the spotlight. James is a Mechanical Design Engineer in our R+D department and works on a whole range of new designs and custom projects. 

How long have you worked at Linkam?

I’ve been here for nearly two and a half years.

What’s the best part of working at Linkam?

It’s hard to point to just one thing: the day to day variety, the working environment, the people and the fantastic products.

Tell us about your studies and work experience. What were you doing before Linkam?

After a disastrous performance at college, I turned the corner at university and qualified with a 1st Hons Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Sussex University. After spending a few years in the Midlands gaining vital experience at top aerospace companies, I found my way back down South and to Linkam.

Why did you choose a science career?

I nearly ended up an astrophysicist, but it seems that it was always my fate to become an engineer. Be it on a cosmic scale, or something a little more down to earth, I’ve always had a passion for the way things work. At Linkam I get the best of both worlds, creating instruments which help scientists probe the limits of our knowledge and understanding.

What makes you passionate about science?

If you were to show people 100 years ago even just a fraction of the technology we take for granted on a daily basis, let alone what’s on today’s cutting edge, it would blow their minds and still does mine. How is it possible for someone to not be passionate about science and engineering?

What do your parents do?

I’m descended from a long line of engineers ranging from mechanical and civil to electronic and electrical engineers.

How would you describe your average day at Linkam?

One simply does not have an average day at Linkam…

Has the company changed much since you started working here?

From the outside I don’t think that the company appears to have changed too much, but we’ve become much more efficient whilst retaining a decent amount of flexibility. Crucially we’ve retained a friendly working environment which is part of what makes Linkam, Linkam.

What are your hobbies?

Music, cars and motorbikes, generally the classic stuff. I’ve recently just started mountain biking too. I blame Vince for that one along with the scars on my legs. Errr I also bake because who doesn’t like cakes? (I’ve not yet found anyone here yet)

Where do you want to be in ten years?

Will I still be at Linkam? I certainly hope so, I genuinely love my job. Hopefully in 10 years I’ll also have restored my mini but I won’t hold my breath on that one. As for my personal life, family is quite important to me so wife, perhaps a kid, dog and maybe some chickens.

And lastly, where did you go on your last holiday?

My last proper holiday was spent gazing upon the Ionian Sea from the hills on the Isle of Zakynthos: beautiful scenery, amazing food and very friendly locals.

Thanks James. Next month we ask the same questions as we continue to introduce the team to you.

Thanks for reading.

By Caroline Feltham

Cutting Edge Cryo-CLEM

 Fluorescent beads, 200nm diameter, in ice imaged using the correlative stage (test sample).

Fluorescent beads, 200nm diameter, in ice imaged using the correlative stage (test sample).

At Linkam, we delight in designing temperature control stages at the forefront of new techniques.  We have now in collaboration with some great scientists at LUMC, particularly Erik Bos and Bram Koster, created a stage for cryo-correlative light/electron microscopy (CLEM).

Cryo-CLEM is the correlation of images captured with a cryostage on a fluorescent light microscope and then bringing that same sample to the cryo-Transmission electron microscopy.

To present our design we attended the annual Cryo-Microscopy Group Meeting (CMG) in the City of Birmingham, UK, on 14th November.

One of the speakers at the meeting, Dr Lucy Collinson, spoke positively about some of the preliminary results she has achieved using this stage to study cancer cells. She described that their new correlative stage is being used alongside synchrotrons in Berlin, Barcelona and Oxford to image the cells using a cutting-edge technique called 'soft X-ray tomography'. Soft X-ray tomography allows the scientists to image the structure of the entire cell in 3D.

We look forward to blogging in more detail about this in the future.

 Linkam's new phase 2 correlative stage

Linkam's new phase 2 correlative stage

The correlative stage will hold your samples at a stable -196°C. The stage enables you to study your TEM (Transmission Electron Microscope) grid samples at 100x magnification and identify areas of further interest, and also facilitates the movement of these analysed grids to your TEM. With automated liquid nitrogen control, heated optics and a digital display the unit is a compact and efficient system for this work.

The CMG is affiliated to the Royal Microscopical Society and focuses exclusively on promoting low temperature microscopy work. Emergent and established low temperature analytical techniques are becoming increasing relevant in a number of fields including TEM.

For now, we would like to say a big thank for the invitation, the welcome, the lunch and for the boundless enthusiasm of all our customers, both old and new, who we have the pleasure to meet at these exhibitions. Thanks also to Dr Lucy Collinson for her support and feedback.

By Caroline Feltham

Packing For A Rainy Day

Knowing you are going on holiday is one of the best feelings – but it can also be a bit stressful. 

You have a limited weight allowance, if it’s hot you need to pack light, but even the desert gets chilly at night. You don’t want your good time spoiled because you forgot to pack a cardigan - desert stars aren’t at all pretty with chattering teeth.

In the same way you don’t want to buy a new bit of equipment, joyfully get it out the box, lift it up to show your colleagues and... crash! While the equipment is hardy , a dive from a laboratory desk - or heavy handedness with the delicate windows - may leave you with a very expensive paper weight.

So what can you do? Think spares.

Most of our stages have accessory kits that come with a selection of spare windows, samples carriers and other essential extras.

We also sell replacement heating blocks for most of our stages. You can remove a damaged heating block, and while you send it back to us for some TLC, replace it with your spare one. No downtime for the stage, and no need to halt your experiments mid-eureka.

Windows can be purchased separately, or in boxes of 100 for the coverslips/glass ones. That should keep you going for a while, even in the hands of the most exuberant user.

Linkam supply a wide range of spares for your stage.So when you are compiling that list – consider not just the bare minimum, but those little extras that help you prepare for a rainy day. You won’t regret a little preparation.

At Linkam we understand that accidents happen and we want you have to have all the help, advice and equipment on hand - so minor damage needn’t mean complete disaster.  

Email us at info@linkam.co.uk for more information

By Caroline Feltham

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: btl@biopharma.co.uk 
By Caroline Feltham