At the sharp end

You swallow a pill and you expect it to work.

The most common method of administering medicine

However, orally delivered drugs have many obstructions: they have to withstand stomach acid, pass across intestinal cell membranes, avoid destruction in the liver, and are affected by the presence of food and/or other medicines.

But oral medicines are economical, convenient, you don't (usually) need someone else to help you take them, you can accurately monitor your own dose, and don't need any special equipment (no scary needles).

While oral administration is the most common there is also parenteral administration by intravenous, intramuscular and subcutaneous injections.

The parenteral method is prefferable as it is more efficient, but it is costly - both in the development and the administration. At the moment only a few medicines, such as insulin, are delivered this way.

Dr. Jingjing Liu from the Institute for Particle Science and Engineering at University of Leeds has looked at ways of reducing the cost of production of protein crystals that are a part of protein-based medicines - which are usually administered by injection. Historically, medicine manufacturers have faced challenges growing crystals on an industrial scale as they require specific complex nutrient solutions.  

Dr Liu is using the Linkam LTS350 stage in his research on the growth behaviour of multiple crystals of hen egg white lysozyme. He said: “One of the advantages of the Linkam stage is that larger volumes of liquid can be used which in turn generate more crystals.”

This research is fundamental to further understanding the behaviour of crystal growth in a population and provides crucial information for the design, optimization and control of industrial-scale protein crystallization.

Scaling up this vital research is the first step to competing with pill-based medicine.

Flares of Enterprise

A few weeks ago newspapers were flooded with images of the sun emitting a huge solar flare. How huge? Well, take a look at a short video here

Imagine harnessing that energy.

Size comparison of the solar flare compared to earth. Don't worry, in reality we are not that close.

Solar power often faces criticism as an alternative energy due to its low conversion efficiency, but this doesn't necessarily limit its value. A scienitist called Matthias Loster has produced a solar power map of the world here showing how we don't have to cover the whole earth with ugly solar panels to make every other source of energy obsolete. In fact, the panels just need to be positioned in the sunniest spots on earth.

Solar power truly is a great answer to our power needs. Yes, there are costs involved and solar technologies do still need a lot of work, but to change something from an idea to a usauble product you need to take action.

Some scientists at the Cohen lab at the University of Oregon are doing just this and are aiming to create inexpensive, efficient, thin film solar cells. D.W.Miller, a Graduate Research Fellow with the group, said: "Most of our experiments are built to work on a functioning solar cell".

Using a Linkam LTS350-W-PB4 stage they can take advantage of how a photovoltaic device works to study fundamental properties of the components of the solar device. In order to do their experiment they had to modify the Linkam stage by building an additional contacting system comprising a series of spring loaded flexible steel rod arms with gold pogos at the end. This enterprising set-up gives them a firm, stable electrical contact with their sample at all temperatures.

When asked about the benefits of the Linkam stage, D.W.Miller added: "There are tons. They are  more reliable, they sweep temperature more rapidly and stabilize more quickly at temperature, they provide easier access to the sample, are sturdier and more efficient".

Its always fascinating to find out how our customers use our stages, but in this case it is extra special to see how our original design has been a source of innovation and creation, and is now helping a very industrious group of scientists work towards solving the energy problems of tommorrow.

by Caroline Feltham


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.