Spotlight: analysis and microscopy

Materials World magazine
1 Dec 2014

Natalie Daniels takes a look at the improvements being made in the field

In an attempt to improve materials and technologies, steps are being taken by firms to provide better equipment for studying materials. One firm working to improve thermal analysis is Germany-based Netzsch, with the STA 449 F5, a top-loading instrument with low-drift microbalance for use in high-temperature applications. TGA and DSC measurements can be monitored with high precision at temperatures up to 1,600°C. The design has a rotating motorised silicon carbide furnace hoist, which allows the sample and sensor to be changed easily and safely. Its maximum sample load can reach 35,000mg with a volume of 5cm3. The instrument also has an automatic evacuation and refilling measurement system, as well as mass flow controllers.

Meanwhile, USA-based firm Motic has improved its range of digital microscopes. The BA410E colour correct infinity optical system has a multi-coated EC-H Plan APO lens to enhance image contrast and resolution. It features a six-place nosepiece, offering capacity for multiple imaging modalities. The optional 0/100% phototubes directs imaging light to the camera for low-light applications. The stand can be fitted with a 30W halogen lamp or upgraded to 50W halogen or 3W LED. Both HBO and LED illuminators are also available in fluorescent. The BA410E is available in a large format (175x145mm) and mechanical stage (80x53mm).

Another American firm, Hiden Analytic, designed Hiden EQP, a mass spectrometer and energy analyser for anaylsis of plasma ions, neutrals and neutral radicals. It features a 45-degree electrostatic sector analyser and can scan energy at 0.05eV increments to 0.25eV full width at half maximum. Threshold ionisation and electron attachment ionisation modes are available for detailed neutral radical studies. The system has a multi-channel scalar data acquisition of up to 50 nanoseconds for fast results in pulsed plasma applications. Systems are offered with a choice of single, double or triple-stage differential pumping to deal with plasma process pressure of up to five bars.

Other new technology designed to improve low-light detection is the Orca II range by Hamamatsu Photonics, UK. The digital camera features a 1MP back-thinned charge-coupled device, cooled to -90oC, and trigger signal output to restrict dark current to 0.0012 pixels. Additional features include exposure times that can reach up to 120 minutes. The camera comes with trigger signal outputs to measure control and data capture.

These instruments look promising for furthering analytical techniques in the industry.

Next month’s Spotlight is on quality