Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

   California - the home of sea, surf and cutting edge solar research


California - the home of sea, surf and cutting edge solar research

Optoelectronic characterisation is field which has rapidly expanded in recent years as a result of the extended research into renewable energy sources such as solar power.

There are not many places better suited to be the home of this research than the so called 'Golden State' of California, where the sun always seems to shine.

Ms. Shermin Arab and her colleagues at the Cronin lab, which is part of the historic University of Southern California, have been using a Linkam THMS600 to look at the behaviour of various nanowires and how they can be altered to optimise the absorption of sunlight.

The results of this research, combined with previous worked carried out by the lab, could potentially allow us to efficiently use stored solar energy when the sun is not shining – which would be perfect for us over here in the rainy UK.

Please click here to read the full press release for this exciting application.

By Ricky Patel

Rhythms of Brazil

Brazil, a country famous for its music, glitter and Carnival, contains a large proportion of some of the planet’s largest natural resources: the vast rain-forests, the largest river system in the world and enormous mineral reserves.

Dancer at the Rio Carnival Although not on the same scale, Brazil also plays host to other interesting mineral deposits such as the carbonatite mineral intrusions in the Jacupiranga region in the state of Sao Paolo. The melt and fluid inclusions contained within these carbonatites can be used to calculate trapping pressures, which are indicative of the approximate depth of origin of the mineral vein in the earth’s crust.

Detailed analysis of carbonatites can yield characteristic information about the movement of tectonic plates. These plates are constantly shifting, as they have been doing for billions of years. This involves huge pressure, heat and power: see the amazing sequence here.

To understand the sequence Dr. Emma Salvioli-Mariani of the Università di Parma, Italy, has been characterising these carbonatites using a variety of techniques. Qualitative analysis of the small inclusions was performed using energy dispersive x-ray analysis in the SEM, whilst ICP and ICP-MS were used for major and trace element analysis from whole rock samples. Detailed thermometric analysis by studying the homogenization temperatures of inclusions was carried out using the Linkam THMS600 for temperatures up to 584°C, and the Linkam TS1500 up to 1194°C.

Carbonatite from Jacupiranga, Brazil. This rock is compound of calcite, magnetite and olivine

For the full story please refer to Dr. Salvioli-Mariani’s excellent paper:  “Late veins of C3 carbonatite intrusion from Jacupiranga complex (southern Brazil): fluid and melt inclusions and mineralogy”. 

Exploring Vulcan’s Forge

Graduate scientist Vittorio Zanon, from the University of Perugia, has been examining the explosive past of Vulcan’s forge. Contrary to the belief of Trekologists, Vulcan’s Forge is not a canyon on the planet Vulcan.

Vulcan's Forge, the mythical site of the forge of the Roman god Vulcan, can be found on the island of Vulcano, in Italy. This island in the Aeolian archipelago was formed from an active volcano and it is from here we get the word volcano.

Vulcan's Forge: part of Italy's explosive past

The primary objectives of volcanology are to explore the internal structure of active volcanoes and understand their behaviour. Zanon and the team used a Linkam THMS600 heating stage to learn about the journey of the magma from the centre of the earth to the surface and studied nearly 800 samples of erupted material. The team could then learn about the depth, composition and residence time of magma at these different depths in the earth - crucial for monitoring strategies and forecasting eruptions.

Scientists are trying to understand why the magma sometimes halts in reservoirs beneath the surface during its upward journey - prior to eruption - and how the magma behaves while it's there.

With a better understanding how volcanoes work, scientists have a better chance of predicting future eruptions.

Linkam would like to thank Vittorio Zanon for telling us about his fascinating research.    

By Caroline Feltham

The Cryo Microscopy Group (CMG) in Nottingham November 2011

On the 16th of November 2011 we attended the Cryo Microscopy Group meeting. It seemed very appropriate that the meeting was held in the Boots Science Building, School of Pharmacy, at the University of Nottingham, whose motto is “A City is Built on Wisdom”.  It was here that international speakers and forward thinkers in cryo-microscopy came to network and talk about best practice. 

We took the LTS420, THMS600 and FDCS196 heating/freezing stages along with our popular Imaging Station.  Delegates were extremely interested in the wide range of applications and unparalleled temperature control offered by Linkam products. 

Linkam Scientific Exhibition standThe atmosphere was light hearted and the number of exhibitions truly impressive. We had the great pleasure of meeting many of our existing customers and pleased to introduce our range to some new faces whilst hopefully answering all of your questions.

All in all it was a very enjoyable day (Great Cakes!) and a first for me, representing a company at an exhibition, something I hope to do again soon. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at the meeting for being so welcoming and for making it a very enjoyable and interesting event for all of us.

by Caroline Feltham

Correlative Microscopy at Leiden University Medical Centre

A researcher at LUMC using the THMS600 to look at fluorescently labelled bacteria at liquid nitrogen temperature for correlative light electron microscopy

Professor A.J. Koster and his team at Leiden University Medical Centre are using the THMS600 in a correlative light and electron microscopy setup, to aid the cryo-study of biological specimens.

His group focuses on applications in cell biology, including the study of viral infections and viral replication where fluorescence may be used to pinpoint areas worthy of enhanced investigation. Also of particular interest is the field of vascular biology and the mechanism via which vascular endothelial cells initiate repair in response to injury and inflammation.

His goal is to localize molecular structures in cells using fluorescence microscopy and then transfer the sample to a cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) set up to image the corresponding macromolecular structures in 3D with nm-scale resolution.

The group wanted a cryo-FM sestup that was easy to implement and selected the THMS600 heating and freezing stage which was modified in order to accommodate EM support grids.

Professor Koster says, “before we found the Linkam system in the literature and the ability to correlate microscopies, combining modalities was next to impossible. We have now been using this cryo-CLEM method for more than three years. It has certainly enabled us to produce results quickly and hence get to publication more rapidly too.” (European Journal of Cell Biology 88 (2009) 669–684). 

Posted by Rosie Hider

How has cooking influenced evolution?


Many leading anthropologists from around the world believe that cooking has played a key role in the rate of evolution of mankind.

One common theory is that an increase in human brain size was correlated to our species moving away from the consumption of nuts and fruits and on to the consumption of cooked foods around 250,000 years ago. The rationale behind this theory is that cooking food breaks down its cells, meaning that our stomachs need to do less work to liberate the nutrients our bodies need and therefore there was more free energy available to power a larger brain - in fact without cooking, it is thought that an average human being would have to consume around 5 kilos of raw foods, which would take 6 hours per day to chew.

This is a question that has generated a lot of publicity in recent times, with Horizon airing a show entitled “Did cooking make us human?” on the BBC on the 2nd of March 2010 which focuses on the origins of cooking food and what effects it has had on the evolution of species within the homo genus.

On the back of this, a well known Korean TV company wanted to film their own programme posing a similar question, and they filmed some experimental work at the Leatherhead Food Research facility in Surrey, UK.  

Project Manager Kathy Groves and Microscopist Jill Webb were filmed carrying out an experiment to show the effects of heating food on the cell structure by using our THMS600 stage to warm a potato sample up to normal cooking temperature and viewing the cells under a microscope.

I would like to thank Kathy and Jill for inviting me to the filming of the programme, and wish everyone at Leatherhead food research well for the studies that they are carrying out that will hopefully help shed more light on how cooking has influenced evolution.  

Posted by Ricky Patel

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

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

Another Video Brochure is in the Can

We have been working hard to get more and more video content onto our website.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a quick video clip at 25 frames per second is worth quite a few hefty books of info.

These videos are designed to give you a brief overview and quickly appreciate how the heating stage is used.

In the video above you can see how easy it is to load a sample into a THMS600 hotstage when using the Imaging Station.

So far we have video brochures for the Examina and Analysa stages and the Imaging Station.  More to come!

Linkam On TV: So Did Cooking Make Us Human?

Keen Linkam Blog readers will recall us talking about the BBC filming a documentary on whether cooking food is what enabled us to evolve faster than the apes.

Well the show aired last week, so I apologise for not giving prior warning to set your DVR.  Fear not; those of you in the UK can watch it online on the BBC iplayer by clicking here. Those of you overseas will just have to take our word that it was....well....quite interesting.  We'll see if we can get a clip or something and put it on our youtube channel.

Linkam hotstage enthusiasts may well find themselves eager to fast forward to the brief glimpse of the Linkam THMS600 heating and freezing stage, in which case, you will need to drag the slider all the way to 42min and 10seconds to see Kathy Groves at the controls.

BBC documentary made at Leatherhead Food Research features Linkam Hot Stage

Kathy Groves and her team at Leatherhead Food Research have just spent the morning filming with the BBC as part of a documentary to be aired in March.

The documentary discusses the role of diet in evolution. Comparing the raw food simian diet with modern human's diet.

Our simian ancestors evolved a digestive tract to cope with a super high fibre diet, but it required a lot more energy to digest all that woody stuff.

I'm thinking of one of those massive silverback gorillas, just sitting there half asleep gnawing on some branch he's yanked off a nearby tree. The only activity being a bit of chest beating and hollering every now and then to ensure everyone knows who's boss. This is probably completely inaccurate, but you get the idea.

Apparently, cooked food requires a lot less energy to digest and hence modern humans as we know them had more available for other activities like designing, building, and getting all sorts of stuff done, although a bit of chest beating and hollering still exists today.

I may have got this all wrong as I'm working from snippets of conversation and you'll have to watch the documentary to see just how wrong....I'll post a link of course.

Our THMS600 stage was used on an Olympus microscope to show how the starch granules break down with temperature. I'm guessing, it's this breakdown that enabled us to eat and digest starchy foods that were otherwise unavailable as an energy source.

Thanks so much to Kathy Groves and Leatherhead food for letting us get in the way.