Paper of the Month — December

   Metacetamol. Optical image of the characteristic needles of Form-I (circled in red), and polycrystalline Form-II (circled in blue). Image from McGregor  et al ., 2015.


Metacetamol. Optical image of the characteristic needles of Form-I (circled in red), and polycrystalline Form-II (circled in blue). Image from McGregor et al., 2015.

A New Polymorph of Metacetamol (McGregor et al., 2015)

December’s 'Paper of the Month' [L.McGregor, D.A. Rychkov, P.L. Coster, S. Day, V.A. Drebushchak, A.F. Achkasov, G.S. Nichol, C.R. Pulham, E.V. Boldyreva, A New Polymorph of Metacetamol, CrystEngComm., 2015, 17, 6183-6192; DO: 10.1039/C5CE00910C.] opens the story of metacetamol polymorphism.   

Polymorphism of drugs is a hot topic that has widespread implications for the pharmaceutical industry. New drugs can be produced not only from new substances, but also from previously known compounds that can be crystallised to give a new crystal structure, i.e. a new polymorph.

Because they have different crystal structures, polymorphs of a compound very often differ in properties — new polymorphs can have better bioavailability, or be better for technological processing. At the same time, the unexpected appearance of a new polymorph of a drug during production or storage can result in huge financial losses for a pharmaceutical company.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that every pharmaceutical substance is fully characterised, and that particular attention is paid to the identification and characterisation of its polymorphs. Furthermore, the conditions for the crystallization of these polymorphs should be described.

However, it is often not easy to obtain new polymorphs, and it is even more difficult to rationalise the conditions under which they were formed and to ensure that their production is consistently reproducible.

Paracetamol is a well-known drug which has been around for over a century; several polymorphs of paracetamol have been obtained and studied in detail. A structural isomer of paracetamol —metacetamol— is also reported to have pharmaceutical activity, but until recently no polymorphs had been described for this compound. Metacetamol is being considered as a promising alternative to paracetamol due to its lower toxicity.

In this paper, a second new polymorph of metacetamol has been crystallised and extensively characterised using a range of instrumental techniques, including infrared spectroscopy using a Linkam FTIR600 stage. A procedure for the reliable and reproducible preparation of the new polymorph is described.

The Linkam instrumentation played a crucial role in the research. Not only was it used to measure IR-spectra at variable temperatures, but also the transformations between the previously known polymorph and the new polymorph could be followed in situ by heating and cooling the samples directly in the chamber of a Linkam FTIR600 stage.

The identification of this new form will lead to further investigation of solubilities, dissolution rates and bioavailabilities, and could potentially result in the appearance of a new pharmaceutical product on pharmacy shelves. The use of modern experimental equipment and techniques allows researchers to improve our understanding of drugs and ultimately improve medical care for patients.


Take A Closer Look

    Nematic Liquid Crystals. Photo by Dr Vance Williams, Simon Fraser University.


Nematic Liquid Crystals. Photo by Dr Vance Williams, Simon Fraser University.

We recently discovered an amazing liquid crystal photo gallery, with a collection of microphotographs all taken using a Linkam LTS350 stage (predecessor to the LTS420).

The photos were taken by Dr Vance Williams, an Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, who is Principal Investigator in an organic materials chemistry group called the Williams Research Group.

The group works with liquid crystals, molecular photoswitches and birefringent materials.

Their liquid crystal research focuses on uncovering the factors and interactions that control the self-assembly of liquid crystals through the design and synthesis of new liquid crystalline materials.

Liquid crystals are an intermediate state of matter between conventional liquids and solid crystals, with properties of both. There are many types of liquid crystal phases, which are distinguishable by their different optical properties. Viewed under a polarised light microscope, their different phases show impressive textures and birefringence colours.

The best known application of liquid crystals is in electronic displays, specifically ‘liquid crystal displays’ (LCDs) for computer monitors and televisions, But they can also be found in abundance in living systems, for example, as proteins and cell membranes. 

Dr Williams is a keen microphotographer, an example of his work can be seen above, but for more pictures visit his site. We hope we will be able to feature more of his work in the future.

By Frances Coles

Paper of the Month — November

   Representative image of SYTO®13 (green)/EB (red) fluorescence used for membrane integrity assay. Green cells have intact membranes and red cells have damaged membranes. Picture from  Prickett e t al. , 2015 .


Representative image of SYTO®13 (green)/EB (red) fluorescence used for membrane integrity assay. Green cells have intact membranes and red cells have damaged membranes. Picture from Prickett et al., 2015.

Effect of supercooling and cell volume on intracellular ice formation (Prickett et al., 2015)

November's 'Paper of the Month' comes from a team at the University of Alberta. They have been studying how intracellular ice formation during cryopreservation of cells is affected by the degree of supercooling and the cell volume, in the absence of cryoprotectants. 

Cryopreservation is the use of very low temperatures to preserve living and structurally intact cells and tissues. 

Successful cryopreservation of mammalian cells is crucial for medical use and research purposes. However, ice formation at these temperatures — and the resultant increase of concentration of solutes in the remaining liquid fraction — can be damaging to cells; especially intracellular ice formation (IIF) which is the main cause of cell death for cells cryopreserved in solution.

While the exact mechanistic process for the damage caused by IIF is not known, the plasma membrane plays a key role in all popular theories: either allowing extracellular ice to enter the cell or catalysing the nucleation of intracellular ice. 

Cells can generally tolerate supercooling of about 2-10°C before IIF occurs but this is affected by extracellular temperatures and different osmalities of solutions (which affects cell volume).

In this study the number of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) undergoing intracellular ice formation at different degrees of supercooling were examined on a cryostage. Intracellular freezing can be detected by the darkening of cells. Cell survival after thawing was determined using a membrane integrity assay. In the picture above, the cells with intact membranes can be seen in green and the cells with damaged membranes can be seen in red.

The cryomicroscope system consisted of the Linkam freeze drying stage (FDCS196), T94 temperature controller, liquid nitrogen pump and a Nikon Eclipse 80i microscope. Temperature was set using Linkam’s Linksys 32 temperature control software.

The team found that the smaller cells in a heterogeneous cell population (and those that were smaller as a result of osmotic dehydration) could withstand more supercooling before experiencing IIF. This knowledge could be used to develop novel cryopreservation techniques. 

They told us: "cryomicroscopy allowed us to record the formation of intracellular ice (lethal for cells in suspension) in individual HUVECs, and link this to individual cell volume and the amount of solution supercooling. Our work demonstrates that larger cells are more likely to form intracellular ice. This type of detailed understanding will lead to improved ability to design superior cryopreservation protocols for cells for medical use or distribution for research."

You can read more on their work here

By Frances Coles

Linkam's New Look

Our longer-term users may have noticed some changes in our appearance and branding over the last few months, and we are now pleased to unveil our new-look packaging. 

We have replaced the more resource-intensive plastic cases with fully recyclable packaging: cardboard boxes & sleeves and special plastazote foam which can be crumbed and re-used with resin in applications such as safety floors for playgrounds. We've also introduced more user friendly storage for your stage accessories. 

With the demands for raw materials ever growing — and space in landfills ever decreasing — it is becoming more important as individuals and businesses to help ease the strain on the environment where we can.

So not only are they more environmentally friendly, but we think they look pretty good too!

By Frances Coles 

Marine Food Chain in Peril

Ocean Acidification caused by increasing CO2 emissions  combined with global climate change and rising sea temperatures  is putting severe stress on many marine organisms.

Calcifying organisms such as sea urchins, oysters, corals, calcareous plankton and pteropods (also known as sea butterflies) are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification, as it reduces the saturation states of calcium carbonate minerals in the ocean, making it harder for them to both produce and maintain their CaCO3 skeletons and shells.

A team from the Hofmann Lab at the University of California, Santa Barbara, are studying the impacts of ocean acidification in calcifying marine invertebrates such as the pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica (pictured). 

   Pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica. Photo taken by the Hofmann Group, using a Wild M37 stereomicroscope and Linkam PE120 stage  


Pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica. Photo taken by the Hofmann Group, using a Wild M37 stereomicroscope and Linkam PE120 stage  

The team are based at the McCurdo research station in Antarctica, where they captured these fantastic images. 

   Aurora in Antarctica, photo by Jim Janoso  


Aurora in Antarctica, photo by Jim Janoso  

With the help of Jim Janoso from Northern Focus Optical Inc. they were also able to take this great footage of a swimming juvenile Limacina helicina antarctica, using a Wild M37 stereomicroscope and a Linkam PE120 stage. 

The group hope to understand the molecular and physiological responses of Limacina helicina antarctica to these increases in temperature and acidity. Using data from durafet-based pH sensors that have been deployed in the area since 2010, the team can predict future sea conditions and investigate the effect of these on the metabolism, gene expressions and shell morphology. 

Although small, pteropods are extremely environmentally important. They are a source of food for a huge range of species (from krill to whales, and many economically valuable fish species). Dr Gretchen Hofmann, professor of Marine Biology at the USCB and principal investigator of the Hofmann group, said "It's possible by 2050 [pteropods] may not be able to make a shell anymore. If we lose these organisms, the impact on the food chain will be catastrophic". 

Hoffman explains that as the acidity of the sea increases the pteropod larvae have to "re-tune" their metabolisms in order to make a shell. These strenuous physiological changes however make Limacina helicina antarctica less able to cope with the rising sea temperatures, and result in an organism of decreased size. 

You can follow the group's research both on their Facebook page and their  website

   Stage set-up, with Linkam PE120 in vertical position 


Stage set-up, with Linkam PE120 in vertical position 

By Frances Coles


Putting Students First

   Linkam's Michael Schwertner demonstrating the CMS196 cryo-correlative stage to participants Tanmay Bharat and Swetha Vijayakrishnan


Linkam's Michael Schwertner demonstrating the CMS196 cryo-correlative stage to participants Tanmay Bharat and Swetha Vijayakrishnan

At Linkam we like to encourage and support the next generation of scientists.

Towards the end of September we attended the UK’s first Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy (CLEM) interactive workshop. This was held at the prestigious Francis Crick Institute, in London, and will take place in alternate years with the European EMBO CLEM course in Bristol.

The course was fully booked with eight participants from eight different institutes in the UK working in pairs throughout the week to learn different CLEM workflows. The Linkam CMS196 Cryo-Correlative stage was used during the workshop so students could get practical experience of the system and see how it fits into the Cryo-CLEM workflow.

Cryo-CLEM is a new and emerging technique to combine the individual advantages from both Fluorescence and Electron Microscopy.

Electron microscopy (EM) provides structural information at very high resolution but can give only restricted insight into biological and chemical processes due to limitations in staining and sample preparation processes, whereas fluorescence microscopy is a very sensitive method to detect biological, chemical and genetic processes and events within living cells. This technique is responsible for some of the astonishing photomicroscopy images and videos you can now find.

Cryo-CLEM images the same sample location with both techniques and superimposes the complementing information — it is a powerful tool to gain new biological insights and investigate rare or dynamic molecular events.

Below is a picture of mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) cells, prepared by PhD student Patricia Goggin and captured by Linkam's Michael Schwertner during the ‘correlative cryo-fluorescence leading to cryo-electron tomography or cryo soft x-ray tomography’ practical. This cryofluorescence image shows the cell nuclei in blue, mitochondria in green and filamentous actin in red. 

   Cryofluorescence image of mouse embryonic fibroblast cells taken at the workshop. The cell nuclei are shown in blue, mitochondria in green and filamentous actin in red. 


Cryofluorescence image of mouse embryonic fibroblast cells taken at the workshop. The cell nuclei are shown in blue, mitochondria in green and filamentous actin in red. 

We had a great time showing off some of the features of our cyro-CLEM stage whilst also continuing to learn about some of its applications, and our thanks go to everyone involved, especially Dr Marie-Charlotte Domart, Dr Raffa Carzaniga, Dr Lucy Collinson and Dr Paul Verkade.

By Frances Coles 

Paper of the Month

Linkam stages and equipment are used in a huge range of scientific research worldwide, in fact there’s so much going on we can’t always keep up with it all. Search ‘Linkam’ in Google Scholar to see the true extent of applications for our stages.

While application notes can already be found for many of our stages, we have decided that from now on we will also share some of this research with you here on the blog.

Each month we will choose our favourite paper featuring a Linkam stage from Google Scholar, and post it as ‘Paper of the Month’ — we hope you will find this work as interesting as we do!

In the past our instruments have been used by major manufacturers and institutions for a wide variety of applications, from improving the taste of chocolate and ice-cream, testing the rubber of trainers and formulating hair care products, to studying the evolution of icy satellites and imaging cell autophagosomes to aid research into cancer.

We love to know what our stages and equipment are being used for and are always happy to hear from you with research updates or feedback, so please feel free to contact us.

By Frances Coles

Paris to Geneva, by bike

   John at the end of the ride, in front of Lake Geneva


John at the end of the ride, in front of Lake Geneva

Last week Linkam’s technical support guru John Hart, accompanied by his sister and father — former Olympic rowers Sarah Winckless and Mike Hart (yes, that’s right two Olympians in the family!), cycled 348 miles from Paris to Geneva to raise money for the Scottish Huntington’s Association, which operates specialist support services for people living with Huntington’s disease. They cycled for 6-7 hours per day, and climbed a total of 18,500 feet. 

This is a cause close to their hearts, and so far their efforts have raised an incredible £4,125, all of which will go directly to the charity. The journey began in 2012 with a cycle from London to Paris, also to raise money for Huntington’s. Last week’s stretch from Paris to Geneva saw them tackling more challenging terrain, with some tough mountain climbs, and our congratulations go out to them all.

The ride

Day 1 – Paris to Sens (84 miles)
Day 2 – Sens to Semur-en-Auxois (85 miles)
Day 3 – Semur-en-Auxois to Lons-le-Saunier (101 miles)
Day 4 – Lons-le-Saunier to Geneva (77 miles)

You can show your support here.

By Frances Coles 

   Sarah, John and Mike at the highest point of the ride, just before their descent into Geneva


Sarah, John and Mike at the highest point of the ride, just before their descent into Geneva

Tomorrow's World

Dubbed the ‘second industrial revolution’ by New Scientist, 3D printing is transforming the way we live and work and has already been adopted by a wide range of major industries for innovation, prototyping and product development purposes. 

Some estimates suggest that the 3D printing industry could be worth as much as $20 billion in worldwide revenue by 2020, up from ~$3 billion in 2013.

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), returned to the headlines last month with the FDA’s approval of the first 3D printed pharmaceutical pill. In a world first, Spritam (levetiracetam) — a drug to control epileptic seizures — will be produced by pharmaceutical company Aprecia using 3D printing technology.

The use of 3D printing in this instance allowed the company to create a more porous pill that dissolves more quickly on contact with liquid, making it easier for patients to swallow high doses. 

At Linkam we hate to be left behind when it comes to new technology so a couple of years ago we invested in our very own 3D printer to see how it could help us, and in turn help you.

Our printer is from market leaders Stratasys and uses the same technology that brought you RobocopIronman and Jurassic World's dinosaurs

The Stratasys Fortus 250mc uses fluid deposition modelling (FDM) technology. This builds objects layer-by-layer from the bottom up by heating and extruding thermoplastic filament.

Here’s how the process works at Linkam:

1.      Our R&D team create a component using Computer-aided design (CAD) software. 

2.       Computer aided manufacturing (CAM) software reads the 3D CAD file, and calculates a route to extrude thermoplastic and any necessary support material.

3.       The 3D printer heats the thermoplastic to a semi-liquid state and extrudes an ultra-fine thread along the route. Where support is needed, the printer deposits a removable material that acts as scaffolding.

4.       The support material is broken away or dissolved, and the component is ready to use. 

What are the advantages over conventional techniques?

Firstly, user time is significantly reduced when compared to conventional machining inputs and processes.

Secondly, it enables the production of lightweight optimised components with complex geometries and cavities that are problematic, or even impossible, to make with traditional techniques. 

There is also far less waste. Traditional manufacturing relies on a subtractive process that often removes as much as 95% of the raw material, whereas additive machines use the exact amount of material required for production.

And finally, when the need arises, we can send prototype components to our customer to ensure the part fits their system.

How is it helping us?

While we will still continue to machine our finished products conventionally, this technology has proved invaluable for prototyping and product development purposes. It allows our research and development team to test definitively whether a new concept will be usable, particularly in terms of assembly and accessibility, without having to spend 2-3 weeks machining the product. During prototype creation it can mean that limitations of traditional machining and cutter access no longer apply, and even that several machined parts can be combined into one.

Additionally, there is less potential for error when developers have access to physical, tactile components, rather than just a digital concept, and a physical model early on in the cycle helps to convey design intent to the whole team… seeing is believing!

3D printing also reduces the demand for machining time. At Linkam we use traditional, small-scale, in-house manufacturing techniques so this is a big advantage. Ultimately, the use of 3D printing in product development should allow us to get new products to the market more quickly.

Some items, for example jigs & fixtures and our new stage stands, are now purpose designed to be created via 3D printing, and we have recently been able to produce two integral components for our correlative stage (CMS196) that would otherwise be very challenging to make.

What about custom designs?

We are often approached by scientists and OEMs looking to design custom solutions for analytical limitations in their work and instrumentation. Many of our now standardized systems started out as an idea brought to us by a scientist either dissatisfied with what was available, or looking to create something completely new.

We work very closely with our customers, creating sketches, designs and prototypes which are continually refined until the customer is happy. The use of 3D printing allows us to create prototypes more quickly, and get feedback on the design from the user, before committing it to a machined product. 

Last but not least, it means we can provide exact scale replicas of our existing stages and stage clamps to prospective customers, to ensure compatibility with existing equipment before placing an order. If this is something that sounds like it might be of interest to you, please get in touch with a member of our team.

It’s safe to say, we’re big fans!

   3D printed components for Linkam Imaging Station prototype 


3D printed components for Linkam Imaging Station prototype 

   3D printed Linkam Imaging Station prototype 


3D printed Linkam Imaging Station prototype 

By Frances Coles 

Research Matters

The new RH95 Humidity Controller 

The new RH95 Humidity Controller 

When an opportunity arises the Linkam team like to get involved in research using our equipment.

Caroline Feltham, from our sales and marketing department, has been working with Vincent Larat — a Raman application scientist with HORIBA Scientific — using the new RH95 Humidity Controller for pharmaceutical analysis. They successfully profiled the changes that occur in the hydration state of anhydrous lactose and theophylline when samples are maintained at 95% relative humidity (RH) and 25°C.

The structural properties of pharmaceutical formulations can be altered when they are exposed to warm and humid conditions, for example during storage or in tropical countries. Ingredients may undergo changes in their hydration level, which can lead to a change in form and can have a significant effect on the efficacy of the drug.

It is important therefore, that the physical and structural properties of the active and inactive ingredients (and their interactions) are fully analysed before the drug is introduced to the market.

Anhydrous lactose is found as an inactive ingredient in a variety of different medications. It is useful as it contains no water, meaning it will not react with medications that are sensitive to moisture. But it is vital to understand the conditions at which anhydrous lactose converts to its monohydrated form, as this will interact differently with the other ingredients.

Theophylline is a menthylxanthine drug used in therapy for respiratory diseases. Hydration state affects the solubility, and consequently the bioavailability, of theophylline.

The combined use of Raman microspectroscopy (performed on the LabRAM HR Evolution from HORIBA Scientific), and a Linkam Scientific temperature and humidity control cell, allowed for accurate mapping of the point of transformation from the anhydrous form to monohydrated form. 

The full article can be found here

By Frances Coles 

Seeds of Change

Seeding Labs help talented scientists in developing countries, providing them with equipment and resources

Seeding Labs help talented scientists in developing countries, providing them with equipment and resources

We recently discovered an amazing organisation called Seeding Labs and wanted to share it with you here on the blog. 

Seeding Labs is a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing lab equipment and resources, including training and access to key influencers in their scientific field, to enable talented scientists in developing countries to conduct life changing research.

In countries routinely afflicted with problems such as food shortages, extreme weather events and disease, scientific research might not immediately be seen as an important beneficiary of charitable support. However, localised research facilities can be a crucial and effective component in creating the kind of sustainable and diversified economies that will help developing nations lift themselves out of poverty, and cope with such challenges.

Seeding Labs has recently been recognised for its outstanding contribution to global science and development, being named as one of the world’s top 10 most innovative not-for-profit companies by Fast Company. Founder & CEO Dr Nina Dudnik was also honoured with the John F Kennedy New Frontier Award in 2014.  

Nina Dudnik established Seeding Labs after returning to the United States from a Fulbright fellowship in Africa.  In the USA she observed the routine discarding of functioning equipment, whilst in Africa she had been working with highly skilled scientists who lacked access to even the basic tools of scientific research. Dudnik identified the mutually beneficial opportunity for an organisation that could successfully connect this vast supply with this overwhelming demand.

Seeding Labs has so far provided over $2.5 million worth of surplus and donated equipment to ~15,000 laboratories and scientists in 22 countries. They also run training and fellowship programs, supporting students and researchers in their work, developing treatments for tuberculosis and malaria, expanding access to clean drinking water, training doctors, improving crops, and much more.

In this article for the Wall Street Journal, Dudnik discusses Africa’s 'scientific deficit' and how the right scientific tools could have enabled West African scientists to mobilise an appropriate public-health response to Ebola much sooner thus reducing the impact of the crisis.  

Looking ahead, Seeding Labs anticipates tripling the organisations current impact by shipping equipment to 45,000 recipients by 2016. The company is supported in this goal through equipment donations from universities and corporations and a recent $3 million grant provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

We can’t wait to see what might be achieved in the coming years, as a result of Seeding Labs work. 

By Frances Coles


New arrival at Linkam

   Frances Coles has recently joined Linkam's sales and marketing team


Frances Coles has recently joined Linkam's sales and marketing team

As the newest member of the Sales and Marketing team I would like to say a warm hello to all the staff and customers of Linkam. I’m Frances Coles, and I will be assisting Duncan, Ricky, Caroline and John with the marketing of Linkam’s remarkable products.

I graduated with a degree in Environmental Science, and after a year in marketing and design I am looking forward to be returning to the scientific world, whilst also being able to put my new skills to best use. I will be working particularly on email-campaigns, application notes, press releases and social media, and I hope I will be able to use youthful enthusiasm to my advantage! 

Microscopy and Microanalysis 2015

   Microscopy and Microanalysis 2015 


Microscopy and Microanalysis 2015 

Our Sales and Marketing Manager, Dr Duncan Stacey, is attending the 2015 Microscopy and Microanalysis Conference in Portland. M&M 2015 will be held at the Oregon Convention Centre and takes place from the 2nd – 6th August. The meeting will highlight the latest techniques, methodologies and findings, spanning nano to macroscopic scales, and advances in a wide range of fields, including; nanotechnology, biological & clinical sciences, materials science, 3D manufacturing and metallurgy. The theme of this year’s conference is correlative imaging and light based technologies. M&M is the ideal place to learn new about new technologies & techniques and to see the latest instrumentation. Duncan will be giving a talk on ‘Cryo-Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy (Cryo-CLEM): Specimen Workflow Paths and Recent Instrument Developments’. This will be session X30.02 on Wednesday 5th, starting at 13.30 – and we highly recommend it!

We're Going to NATAS 2015


We will be heading over the pond to Montreal next month to the North American Thermal Analysis Conference (NATAS). 

If you are planning on attending please come to our booth to see us. We will present our new VISTA DSC600 TASC system which, when combined with our new Imaging Station, can simultaneously capture images of the sample with the DSC signal during an experiment. The images are processed to produce thermal curves based upon the changes in sample features observed during the experiment. This provides additional information about the structural changes of the material with temperature. TASC can be used with any of the Linkam Thermal Stages from the standard THMS heating cooling stage to our Tensile and Shear stages.

During the conference Prof Mike Reading, the inventor of TASC, will be presenting data and will be available to discuss how TASC can benefit your application. 

Come and see for yourself the wide range of techniques that can be used with the new VISTA system


Duncan Stacey

Taking the Temperature

   Caroline Feltham on the Linkam stand at the ABA


Caroline Feltham on the Linkam stand at the ABA

Last week Linkam attended the Association of Biomedical Andrologists AGM in Leeds.

The focus was on the science of fertility and talks throughout the day ranged from sample procurement, data collection and service improvement, to clinical interpretation. What was clear from the talks was that fertility assessment, in particular semen assessment, is very dependent on temperature so we were pleased to launch our new ITO coated warm stage - the WS37.

The new system includes an ITO or Indium tin oxide (a transparent conductive oxide) coated glass stage, controller, liquid crystal validation slide (to easily check the temperature of samples) and unique adaptor solution to fit virtually any microscope. The stage allows scientists to spend time on their results - and not their sample control - as it reliably controls the samples at 37°C while they are assessed.

Stephen Harbottle, Consultant Embryologist at Cambridge IVF said: “I’m delighted to hear the stage is ready to go to market and I am thrilled you are launching at ABA!  Regarding our unit, we look forward to receiving it and putting it to good use in the lab.”

by Caroline Feltham 

Making life easier for andrologists

   Stephen Harbottle at Cambridge IVF trying out his new stage


Stephen Harbottle at Cambridge IVF trying out his new stage

Last Thursday, we crossed the Thames and headed north to Cambridge for a special delivery of our own to Stephen Harbottle at Cambridge IVF. We were pleased to be able to present Stephen with the first production WS37 system in thanks for the valuable feedback he has provided during its development. In a few days we will be heading further north to Leeds for the Association of British Andrologists AGM on the 21st May 2015, where we will launch the new WS37.  

The WS37 system is aimed at making the andrologists life easier by ensuring sperm are kept happy at a stable and repeatable temperature allowing them to concentrate on the analyse of the samples.  The WS37 provides stable, repeatable and calibrated temperature control directly on your microscope.

Stephen noted that it “was a dramatic improvement” on other systems, and that they would be using it immediately.

If you are visiting the ABA please come and talk to us or look out for more information on the WS37 in the coming weeks. 

Pancake Perfection

As we arrived at work on a beautiful, sunny February day the question on the minds of every Linkamite in the office was: what are we going to have on our pancakes tonight?

This question about these light, fluffy discs of deliciousness has led to great debate and discussion; from maple syrup to mushrooms and blueberries to bacon, everyone believes that their own combination leads them to pancake utopia.

The one thing that we can all agree on however is this - the best way to cook pancakes is on the Linkam LTS stage, as we discovered in 2010.

Linkam Scientific - providing perfect pancakes platforms since 1982.


Raman Noodles and Peking Duck

Duncan Stacey reports on a recent trip to Japan and China with Vince Kamp to visit Linkam's distributors Japan High Tech and AD Creative.

After more than 15 hours travelling Vince and I finally made it to Fukuoka City, the home town of our Japanese partner, JHT

Mr Koichi Iwasaru, President of JHT, kindly met us at the airport and took us to a local, automated Raman noodle restaurant - a great way to recover from the trials and tribulations of travelling. That evening we were joined by Koichi-san and his wife for dinner at a French/Japanese fusion restaurant. Food as a work of art, it was almost too beautiful to eat.

   An automated Ramen noodle restaurant in Fukuoka, Japan.


An automated Ramen noodle restaurant in Fukuoka, Japan.

The trip was not all about food and on Saturday we had a full day of discussions. JHT explained how they promote and sell the Linkam products and the great emphasis they place on customer support. It was interesting to meet some of the JHT team and get a better understanding of the Japanese market and customer requirements.

I am sure I will be back again and we are looking forward to welcoming JHT when they visit us in the UK in the near future

   A Japanese flower garden in Fukuoka.


A Japanese flower garden in Fukuoka.

It seemed like no sooner had we landed than we were off again. This time heading to Beijing to visit our Chinese partner, ADC. Mr Jerry Young, Managing Director, kindly provided the transport to the hotel.

The next day started with meeting the team at their office near the Beijing Olympic park. It’s great to see the ever expanding team, now six people, dedicated to providing the best possible customer support for Linkam products in China. Merry Weng Yan and her team gave an interesting overview of the Chinese market. After lunch we went to their new laboratory where ADC offer testing and evaluation as well as technical support and repair facility.

   Dinner with Jerry Young (second left) and the team at ADC, in Beijing.


Dinner with Jerry Young (second left) and the team at ADC, in Beijing.


Apart from the productive meetings and the fantastic food there were also a few hours to take in some of the sights of Beijing.

   A 'fire extinguisher' in the Forbidden City. These giant urns were once filled with water.


A 'fire extinguisher' in the Forbidden City. These giant urns were once filled with water.

Smart Cuffs to Super Shoes - A review of Wired 2014 Part 2

Pioneers of disruption: Architect Zaha Hadid and musician Will.I.AM explaining how they are breaking the barriers of design and technology

Pioneers of disruption: Architect Zaha Hadid and musician Will.I.AM explaining how they are breaking the barriers of design and technology

It’s been a few weeks, but as promised here is Part 2 of my Wired 2014 review.

Due to the entertainment that ran late into the night after day one, there were more than a few bleary eyes walking into the doors of Tobacco Dock on day two. But it did not take long for everyone to get wide eyed again with a line-up that promised excitement and innovation in equal measure.

The range of talks was diverse, but on day two they carried an underlying theme. It was one that was touched upon by almost every speaker and it was this: the way we interact with each other and the world is fundamentally changing.

With the Oculus Rift 3D headset, you no longer have to travel half way across the world to view the sights and sounds of a far flung destination – you can experience them sitting in your living room.

With Google Glass, you no longer have to pull out your camera phone – you can take a photo with just a blink of your eye.

With Will.I.AM’s new Puls “Smart Cuff”, you no longer have to have to keep a diary – this new piece of wearable tech would become your own tiny personal assistant.

The evolution of technology can lead to many great benefits, but as one aspiring young Indian innovator Dhariya Dhand said so beautifully:

“Today we immerse in our digital lives through smartphones - we use Google maps to navigate to the right location, Yelp to find the right restaurant and so on. We don't get lost anymore, we don't wander, wonder and discover. Acts of random serendipity through walking bring us back to our innate nature as explorers. Walking is meditating."

To counteract this he has developed a pair of “Super Shoes” which allow you to get lost wandering around any new city safe in the knowledge that when you tap your foot on the floor twice the GPS system in the sole will guide you back to your hotel. It does this by tickling the appropriate foot every time you should be taking a turn.

With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, It is refreshing to know that there are still some great minds out there who are fighting to ensure that we are not overpowered by smart phones and computers, but that we can use them to take a step back - and still enjoy moments of serendipity everyday life.

By Ricky Patel

Distinctly Colder in DC

   The Washington Monument in all of its magnificence


The Washington Monument in all of its magnificence

The Linkam team was recently in Washington DC for NeuroScience 2014, our first time with a booth at this show.

There has been a lot of  interest from other companies producing live cell imaging systems, in particular, who want to add incubators, warm stages and cryo correlative fluorescence capability to their systems.

The diverse range of products and applications on show here was truly amazing: from imaging the single neuron, to monitoring people’s reactions to loud noises using fMRI (functional MRI), and everything in between.

The size of the conference was a bit overwhelming with over twenty five thousand delegates - the equivalent of a small town. Despite this it was very difficult to find a good cup of coffee (note to self – must have a coffee machine on the booth at future shows).

Outside the show we (Duncan Stacey, Vince Kamp and Ricky Patel) managed to get a quick look around some of the Smithsonian museums ( including the Air & Space Museum, Portrait Gallery and National Gallery. Vince managed to set a record time for running around the Reflecting Pool at the Lincoln Memorial.

It was mostly sunny and extremely cold - not that we really noticed as we were inside the huge convention centre all day, but at least we didn’t catch the heavy snow experienced by some other parts of the USA.

Thanks to Jeff McGinn and Jim Bristol from the McCrone Group for supporting us all week.

By Duncan Stacey