Spotlight – under the microscope

Materials World magazine
1 Mar 2015

Natalie Daniels looks at the advanced equipment in the field of analysis and microscopy. 

In a technical area where scientists require high-resolution imagery, the latest equipment is essential. Therefore, a number of companies in the field of microscopy and analysis are improving on technology to ensure optimal performance.

Thermo Fisher Scientific, based in the USA, has created a high-resolution Q-Exactive focus hybrid quadrupole-orbitrap mass spectrometer. The technology is designed for screening, identification, and confirmation of targeted and untargeted compounds. The software can power up to 140,000m/Q and scans at speeds up to 12Hz to detect chromatography separation techniques. It has selected and timed ion monitoring to ensure accurate mass detection measurements and schedule data acquisition of the targets. The data system features a built-in PC with Intel Pentium microprocessor with additional Thermo Scientific Xcalibur processing and instrument-controlled software. 

Another US firm improving its range of spectrometers is McPherson, with its model 209. The 1.3mfocal length spectrometer can make wavelengths at 0.1 picometres. By using a click-and-measure system, examination reports are generated within one hour to ensure high sample throughput. The spectrometer offers CT data acquisition, volume reconstruction, optimisation and CT data processing for tasks. It follows the VDI 2630 guidelines for 3D measurements. 

A software solution designed to analyse precision and failure in 3D metrology has been introduced by General Electric. The Phoenix Datos|x CT software includes a 300kV/500W microfocus X-ray tube and a four megapixel 400x400mm digital detector. It features a process flow function toolbar for step-by-step workflow setup with an intuitive user interface. Analysis rates can reach more than 14 times faster volume reconstruction for accelerated sample throughput. Results can be viewed in 2D axis and 3D render modes. 

Also based in the US is Nightsea, which has developed the Stereo Microscope Fluorescence Adapter, which changes normal light to fluorescent in less than 40 seconds. The flexible lamp holds modular LED light heads with a power supply from 120/240VAC. The adapter can be mounted onto existing stereomicroscopes up to 67mm using the barrier filters to attach the adapter. This is secured at a 45-degree angle on the front of the adapter. The light head, barrier filter and shield are interchangeable between different light and filter combinations. There are six different excitation/emission combinations available, plus white light. The adapter also holds a viewing filter shield made from the same material as the barrier filter. 

Agar Scientific, based in the UK, has designed the AGMA-30 magnifying instruments. They combine three different optical devices in two components – an 8x20mm monocular, 3x power stand magnifier and, when assembled together, a 30x portable microscope. 

Continued focus like this will no doubt improve analysis and microscopy to enable scientists to visualise and study materials in greater detail.