Underground at St Pancras

When you next take a train from St Pancras have a think about what might be going on beneath your feet.

Just across the road from the station, and 28 metres below the pavement, world leaders in their field are working with some of the highest resolution microscopes on the market to investigate the causes of cancer and other diseases. 

The recently opened Frances Crick Institute brings together scientists from all over the world under one roof and is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Imperial College, King's College, the Medical Research Council, University College London and the Wellcome Trust. 

I was privileged to be invited to visit recently and I would like to thank the Head of Electron Microscopy, Lucy Collinson, and her colleague, Marie Charlotte, for an extremely interesting tour of the labs. 

Read more... 

August's Paper of the Month

Thermophotovoltaics (TPV) is the conversion of thermal radiation released by a thermal emitter into electricity by means of a photovoltaic cell.

Power generation with a TPV system can be envisaged for almost any process and an absence of moving parts has the advantage of low maintenance costs. Thermal emission scales with temperature to a power of 4, meaning temperature above 1000 °C is required to generate significant power in such systems.

However, the wide spectral width of thermal radiation limits the efficiency of TPV conversion as only part of the spectrum is accepted by the photovoltaic cell. August’s Paper of the Month by Dyachenko et al., attempts to solve the TPV efficiency problem by designing and using a unique refractory metamaterial as an emitter instead of the traditional structural resonances.

Read more... 

 

Linkam in France: deuxième partie

The Gateway College bridge crosses the river Rhone  in Lyon.

The Gateway College bridge crosses the river Rhone  in Lyon.

Renowned for its exquisite food, rich cultural history and annual Festival of Lights, Lyon is one of France’s most visited cities. We are excited to announce Linkam will be heading there soon. 

The European Microscopy Congress will take place at the Lyon Convention Centre from the 28th August to the 2nd September. This will be Linkam’s second trip to France this year after the highly successful European Materials Research Society spring meeting.

With over 2000 guests, several hundred guest speakers, specialised workshops and symposia covering the life sciences, instrumentation and methods and materials science, EMC will be an excellent platform to showcase our stages. 

We’ll be taking along the tensile TST350, cryo-correlative CMS196, dual pan DSC, humidity system RH95 and one of our electrical probe stages, the LTS420 E-PB4

Come over to booth 3 to discuss how our stages can enhance your sample characterisation needs - we look forward to seeing you there.

 

July's Paper of the Month

Cryo-preserved cells are vulnerable to Ice Recrystallisation (IR). This is the formation of large ice crystals at the expense of smaller crystals and occurs during repeated freezing and thawing events. These crystals can rupture cell membranes and thus post-thaw cell numbers are often much lower than the number frozen.  IR is a major factor in causing primary graft failure in transplantation patients. 

July’s Paper of the Month by Briard et al., discovered a novel class of carbohydrate derivatives with ice recrystallisation inhibiting properties that retain potency at lower glycerol percentages. The new ice recrystallisation inhibitors (IRIs) are of low molecular weight making them ideal additives to cellular systems. Briard et al., tested the ability of these molecules to reduce ice recrystallisation and ultimately improve the survival rate of cryo-preserved cells.

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June's Paper of the Month

June’s Paper of the Month by Elie et al. focused on the role of a neuronal protein, Tau, and its link to two major cytoskeletal proteins: actin and microtubules. 

These cytoskeletal filaments have a well-established dynamic and synergistic relationship in terms of cellular growth, division and movement. However the molecular basis governing this synergy remains poorly understood, although several proteins have been identified as potential ‘linkers’ between actin and microtubules. As they play a crucial role in cellular function, determining the mechanics of their relationship is fundamental in understanding cellular irregularities and pathologies.

Read more...

 

May's Paper of the Month

May’s ‘Paper of the Month’ is a collaboration between a number of different laboratories and Institutes: the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Nanyang Technological University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Their paper ‘Multi-scale thermal stability of a hard thermoplastic protein-based material’ determined the thermal properties of a potentially novel and sustainable biopolymer to replace the unsustainable petrochemical polymers we rely so heavily on today. 

The search is on to find alternatives to petrochemical based polymers which can be used to synthesize thermoplastics. But it is challenging because not many biopolymers have the chemical properties required to replace thermoplastics. Even when such properties are induced through chemical processing, the biopolymers often lose the integrity of their physical nature. However, one exception may be Sucker Ring Teeth (SRT), made of a protein called Suckerin, which is found in the tentacles of squid and cuttlefish. 

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Lighting the Way

Next week, Linkam will be taking a short trip to Didcot, in Oxfordshire, for the ‘UK Bio-XFEL Single Particle Imaging Workshop’ hosted by Diamond Light Source (the UK’s national synchrotron science facility). The event will take place on the 2nd and 3rd June in the Pickavance Theatre at the Science and Technology Facilities Council, at Harwell. 

The two day workshop is aimed at the life science sector, mainly biological and biomedical. X-ray Free Electron Lasers (X-FEL) have been used by biological researchers in x-ray crystallography, but another application - Single Particle Imaging (SPI) - is gaining rapid attention due to its ability to determine 3D structures without crystallisation. The workshop gives voice to field experts and focuses on encouraging and demonstrating the use of X-FEL for SPI to laboratory scientists.

Come over to our stand to see our cryo-correlative CMS196, the tensile TST350 and the high temperature TS1500.

We look forward to seeing you there and discussing your sample characterisation needs!

 

Paper of the Month

April’s ‘Paper of the Month’ comes from the Institute of Light and Matter (Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 and French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)), where the project was conceived by Professor Frédéric Caupin.

Rock minerals almost always contain Fluid Inclusions (FIs). These inclusions contain snippets of atmospheric and fluid data trapped at the time of the rock’s formation and thus have been used in the past as proxies to estimate the variability of the Earth’s surface temperature.
 
These fluid inclusions – upon cooling – can nucleate bubbles within the rock and it is these bubbles that can be studied to determine the ambient temperature at the time the fluid was trapped. 

However this relies on the presence of the nucleation bubble, which is not always there. In this study, Professor Caupin’s group created a new approach which bypasses the need for this nucleation bubble. Their method follows the interaction between laser light and fluid droplets – Raman spectroscopy and Brillouin microscopy – from which paleothermometry data can be drawn.

This approach may provide a novel route to understanding the earth’s climatic history. 

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Paper of the Month

  Atomic Force Microscopy optical image of black phosphorous. (Image from Su & Zhang, 2015)

 

Atomic Force Microscopy optical image of black phosphorous. (Image from Su & Zhang, 2015)

March’s ‘Paper of the Month’ comes from Dr Yong Zhang and Dr Liqin Su at the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC).

In their paper “Temperature coefficients of phonon frequencies and thermal conductivity in black phosphorous layers” (Applied Physics Letters, 2015), Zhang and Su investigate the vibrational properties and electron-phonon interactions of black phosphorous, as well as how epitaxial or supporting substrates can impact the properties of a 2D material which is often presumed to have weak bonding with the substrate.

Black phosphorous is a particularly promising material due to its layer-dependant band gap, meaning it can function as a semi-conductor – essentially, it can be switched on and off. Its application in new nanotechnologies could give rise to a range of high performance electronic and optoelectronic devices.

Read more…

 

New Video: Cryo-CLEM grid mapping

CMS196M automated mapping of an EM grid at high resolution.  

The cryo-correlative stage, CMS196M can automatically map EM grids at high resolution making it a simple matter to find and record the co-ordinates of the key areas of interest in your sample. The video above shows how easy it is to set up the CMS196M with the new LINK software and create high resolutions maps of the full EM grid.

Freeze Drying Focus Group

pharmaceutics conference Linkam news.png

This March, the Friedrich-Alexander University’s ‘Freeze Drying Focus Group’ will be presented in English for the first time.

The 1 day seminar includes sessions on:

  • The Basic Principles of Freeze Drying
  • The ‘World of Thermal Analysis’ Using Freeze Dry Microscopy — which will be co-presented by Linkam’s Dr Michael Schwertner
  • Defining the quality of a Freeze Dried product
  • Instrument Demonstration and Laboratory Practice
  • Designing a Freeze Drying Cycle
  • and New insights in Freeze Drying of Co-Solvent Systems.

This is the University's Department of Pharmaceutics’ 11th Annual Seminar, and it is an event that has always proved very popular in the past.  

The seminar brings together people from academia, the pharmaceutical industry and vendors & suppliers of equipment to initiate sound scientific discussions in the field of freeze drying and also provides updates on the latest trends and research interests in this field.

Our FDCS196 Freeze Drying Cryo Stage will be on show throughout the day. 

More information and details on how to register for the seminar can be found here.

Paper of the Month

  Dr Matt Gibson using the Linkam BCS196 cryobiology stage to study ice recrystallisation inhibition activity.

 

Dr Matt Gibson using the Linkam BCS196 cryobiology stage to study ice recrystallisation inhibition activity.

January’s ‘Paper(s) of the Month’ come from the Gibson Group at the University of Warwick, a research group led by Dr Matt Gibson.

Matt and his group work at the interface of the organic and polymer chemistries with the life sciences, making use of modern polymer and organic methods to synthesise nano materials for various applications, including regenerative medicine, infectious disease and biotechnology.

Inspired by the evolutionary survival methods of polar region species, such as freeze avoidance using antifreeze (glyco)proteins (AFPs), the team has been working on the design and synthesis of polymer-based AFP mimics as novel new cryoprotectants for cell cryopreservation. They hope this will ultimately improve the availability of transplantable materials for regenerative medicine.

Read more...

New Year, New Products

  Linkam stage. Photo by Linkam's Jim Hayward

 

Linkam stage. Photo by Linkam's Jim Hayward

Welcome back everybody, and a Happy New Year!

At Linkam we have set ourselves a couple of resolutions for the year 2016.

Firstly, we will seek more feedback regarding our stages, so we can continue to refine them to best meet our users’ wants and needs. We hope this is something you might be able to help us with and look forward to talking with you all a bit more over the coming year.

Secondly, we will release a whole range of exciting new products, including our new LINK64 software. 

For updates keep an eye on the website, and on our Twitter and LinkedInpages. Or, if you want to come and see us in person, you can find details of the trade shows Linkam, and our distributors, will be attending in 2016 over on our events page.

Liquid Crystal Microphotography with Linkam

  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.

Read more here.

Paper of the Month

  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.

 

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.

November's Paper of the Month is now live! 

It comes from a team at the University of Alberta, who have been studying how intracellular ice formation during cryopreservation of cells is affected by the degree of supercooling and the 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.

Read about their findings on our blog.

Linkam stage in Antarctica

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

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).

The team are based at the McCurdo research station in Antarctica, and have been using the Linkam PE120 stage to observe samples both at ambient temperature and at -5°C.

Read more on their research here

 

Linkam Press Releases October/November 2015

  A post doctorate research associate from Professor Rachel Williams' group at the University of Liverpool uses the Linkam TST350 stage at room temperature to characterise novel polymer materials

 

A post doctorate research associate from Professor Rachel Williams' group at the University of Liverpool uses the Linkam TST350 stage at room temperature to characterise novel polymer materials

9th October 2015 

Temperature Controlled Stage used in the Characterisation of Novel Electrolytes for more Efficient and less Volatile Fuel Cells

Linkam Scientific Instruments report on the use of their temperature controlled stages in the study of the novel electrolytes that can be used in fuel cells. This work was carried out at the Katholic University of Leuven in Belgium. 

27th October 2015

Tensile Stage Used to Assist with the Development of New Materials that Address Eye Healthcare in the Ageing Population 

Linkam Scientific Instruments report on the use of their tensile temperature controlled stage to develop and characterise novel materials that address the growing burden of eye healthcare in an ageing population. This work is being carried out at the University of Liverpool in the research group of Professor Rachel Williams.

4th November 2015 

Linkam stages in use in the Wolfson Bioimaging Facility at the University of Bristol as part of the endocytic sorting research of Dr Paul Verkade

Linkam Scientific Instruments report on the use of their temperature controlled stages applied to CLEM and fluorescence microscopy to assist in endocytic sorting in the School of Biochemistry at the University of Bristol.

 

Freeze Drying Training Course

We are pleased to be involved with the Freeze Drying Training Course ‘Lyophilisation: Practical Applications Utilising Latest Equipment’ at the Hooke College of Applied Sciences, running from 3rd-5th November.

This course covers aspects of freeze drying as it relates to the pharmaceutical, biological and food industries. These topics will first be discussed in a classroom setting and then put into practise in an onsite laboratory. Attendees will get hands-on experience with the Linkam FDCS196 freeze-drying cryo-stage.

Details and registration

The Linkam FDCS196 freeze drying system provides the ability to quickly and accurately determine collapse and eutectic temperature and intricately investigate freeze dried structure of complex samples.

Linkam Scientific introduce students to the CMS196 cryo-CLEM stage at the Francis Crick Institute

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.

Above 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. 

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.

Read more here

Freeze Drying Webinar

 

On Thursday 1st October Linkam distributors The McCrone Group are running a free webinar on 'Thermal Characterization as Part of an Empirical Process for Developing Optimized Formulations and Lyophilization Cycles'.

The Webinar, presented by Dr Jeff Schwegman and McCrone technical sales representative Ruben Neiblas, introduces a well-defined process for taking an empirical approach to designing formulations, and the lyophilization cycles used to dry them.

Details and registration

The webinar preludes a course entitled ‘Lyophilization: Practical Applications Utilizing Latest Equipment’, featuring the Linkam FDCS196 freeze-drying cryo stage. This will take place from the 3rd-5th November.

The Linkam FDCS196 freeze drying system provides the ability to quickly and accurately determine collapse and eutectic temperature and intricately investigate freeze dried structure of complex samples.