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“One of the most informative and interactive symposia of recent years,“ said WITec CEO Dr. Joachim Koenen about the 13th Confocal Raman Imaging Symposium held from September 26th to the 28th in Ulm, Germany. The German microscope manufacturer annually invites researchers and specialists from widely ranging fields to the international conference to share ideas and hear about the latest developments in Raman microscopy. This year 78 scientists converged to discuss topics as diverse as life science, pharmaceutics and materials research.
With confocal Raman imaging the molecules of a sample can be chemically identified and their distribution can be imaged three-dimensionally. These benefits have recently gained recognition in biological, medical and pharmaceutical research. This trend can also be seen in the conference contributions: in addition to five talks almost half of the poster contributions originated from these fields.
Also a poster from the pharmaceutical field won this year’s WITec Poster Award. Tatjana Lechtonen from Ruhr-University in Bochum (Germany) was delighted to receive the award. She uses Raman imaging for the analysis of anti-cancer drugs. On her poster she explained the results of cell-response and resistance of cancer cells to Erlotinib and Neratinib. She concluded that Raman imaging shows great potential as an in-vitro analytical method for the evaluation of new anti-cancer drugs.
In pharmaceutical research Raman microscopy is a relatively new method that is still being established, explained Dr. Duohai Pan from the pharmaceutics company Bristol-Myers Squibb in New Brunswick (NJ, USA). However, in his company Raman microscopy is already being applied to clinical toxicology studies and the development of new drug formulations. Through Raman microscopy Pan gains information about the crystallization and precipitation characteristics that influence the stability and solubility of the end product. Additionally the identification of polymorphs plays an important role, because even though the chemical composition of polymorphs are identical, they have different impacts on the human body. Pan investigates various samples with Raman microscopy such as emulsions, powders and even entire tablets.
Prof. Dr. Malgorzata Baranska is a researcher at Jagiellonian University in Krakow (Poland). During her talk she described her investigations of vascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis. Baranska is particularly interested in the combined microscopy techniques of Raman-, atomic force and nearfield microscopy. She and her colleagues use mainly cell culture models of the endothelium and liver and tissue samples. Through Raman microscopy she analyzes stress- and drug-induced changes in the cellular processes and with nearfield microscopy she investigates living cells on the nanometer scale. The results are then compared to more established histological methods.
Dr. Christian Matthaeus from the Institute of Photonic Technologies at Jena (Germany) also investigates arteriosclerosis. He reported on his work on macrophages, which uptake and store lipids and contribute significantly to the establishment of arteriosclerotic plaques. Matthaeus analyzes fatty acids and lipid transport proteins in the macrophages with Raman microscopy. Through the knowledge of the plaques’ composition Matthaeus can classify the risk of those plaques causing thrombosis, strokes or heart attacks.
For some time now confocal Raman microscopy has played an important role in materials science for the development of new or improved materials. The topics of the talk and poster contributions in the materials sections ranged from cement to atom-thin 2D materials.
For thousands of years cement has been among the world’s most important building materials. During production vast resources and a great quantity of CO2 are produced. Additionally, an immense amount of waste is generated through the demolition of cement buildings. Dr. Biliana Gasharova from KIT in Karlsruhe (Germany) seeks to develop a more ecologically friendly and energy efficient cement production. She investigates the effects of modified production factors such as pressure or hydrothermal conditions on the composition of the cement phases and their characteristics. To image and chemically identify the cement phases she uses confocal Raman imaging. Thus she can differentiate crystalline structures and polymorph domains to help refine the production process.
Completely different materials are analyzed by Prof. Dr. Georg Duesberg and his research group at Trinity College in Dublin (Ireland). They investigate new 2D materials that might one day be used in solar cells, transistors and electronic devices. 2D materials are single atom-thin layers of, for instance, nano-carbon, molybdenum disulfide, tungsten disulfide or platinum diselenide. Duesberg and his colleagues are interested in the production processes that could enable the use of these materials for industrial applications. Therefore it is important to acquire information about the number of atomic layers, possible defects in the layers and the conductivity of the produced material. Besides microscopy techniques such as atomic force microscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy, Raman microscopy is mainly used by Duesberg and his colleagues because it is very well suited to their investigations. Raman information in the low wavenumber range is particularly interesting for materials characterization.
2D materials are currently the subject of great interest worldwide. This was shown by the talks of Prof. Dr. Nedjam Bendiab from the Institute Néel/CNRS at Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble (France), and Prof. Dr. Marcos Pimenta from Belo Horizonte University (Brazil). Bendiab introduced her work on strain, mechanical resonance and charge- and energy-transition in the nano-carbon material graphene. Pimenta described his work on atomic structures in different 2D materials and compared his results from Raman spectroscopy to results from theoretical simulations. Other fields of application suitable for confocal Raman microscopy were reviewed by Prof. Dr. Vladimir Shur from Ural Federal University in Ekaterinburg (Russia).
To assist the symposium attendees in following the talks from various specialist fields, Prof. Dr. Schluecker from the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany) refreshed their basic knowledge on the physical principles of Raman spectroscopy. Along with the theoretical background Schluecker explained special Raman techniques such as resonance Raman and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS).
Dr. Johannes Ofner from the Technical University in Vienna (Austria) explained how large data sets implemented in hyperspectral images can be efficiently analyzed. Hyperspectral images contain information from different microscopy techniques such as electron microscopy, mass spectroscopy and Raman microscopy. Instead of analyzing every image on its own, Ofner applies filters and algorithms to evaluate the images together. This facilitates the interpretation of the results.
At the end of the conference the feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive. Gomathy Sandhya Subramanian from the A*STAR Institute for materials research and engineering in Singapore said, “The specialty of the Confocal Raman Imaging Symposium is, that one meets experts in their fields but also system experts, from who you gain a lot of tips and tricks on how to apply Raman microscopy to your own sample.” Johannes Ofner from the Technical University in Vienna (Austria) highlighted that, “During the scientific and social program it is easy to get into contact with principle investigators and the WITec staff. So it was the ideal base to exchange knowledge and experience.”
The 14th Confocal Raman Imaging Symposium will be held from September 25th to 27th, 2017 in Ulm, Germany.
How does beam delivery via optical fibers work? Which advantages does the technology provide for Raman measurements?
Find the answers in the latest WITec video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5pQ5rj-ODk
Watch the video of the recent product launch of the alpha300 access: The new microscope for affordable high-end Raman spectroscopy and imaging and learn more about its pioneering functions, integrated technologies and continuous flexibility.
See the video here: https://youtu.be/u2FGKOTBeAM
Analytica Application Award 2016 Ceremony, May 10th, 2016:
Our new alpha300 microscope series was on the shortlist of the bio- and pharma-analytic category nominations for the Analytica Application Award 2016. The image shows the WITec Marketing Director Harald Fischer (on the right) receiving the nomination certificate, a representative of the winning company Miltenyi Biotec GmbH (middle) and Marc Platthaus, chief editor of the Laborpraxis journal (on the left) at the award ceremony. Thanks to the Laborpraxis team for the great evening.
The German nanotechnology company WITec has announced the launch of the new alpha300 access micro-Raman system in conjunction with a thorough revision of the long-established alpha300 series.
WITec’s line of microscopes for Raman spectroscopy and imaging, atomic force microscopy and near-field microscopy all share a unique modularity that allows for single-technique solutions as well as correlative imaging configurations. Additional methods of analysis can be integrated with any instrument in the series at any time. Sophisticated analysis techniques and high-quality components maintain the alpha300 series’ position at the worldwide market’s leading-edge.
The newly-developed alpha300 access microscope is an entry-level system for micro-Raman single-spot analysis and Raman mapping that extends WITec’s product portfolio to lower price segments. “It was specifically engineered for budget-conscious customers with high demands on instrument performance.” says Dr. Joachim Koenen, CEO and Head of Sales & Marketing at WITec. Its outstanding spectral quality, optical throughput and signal sensitivity are ensured by the WITec’s renowned optical element design. “As with other WITec products, the alpha300 access is fully upgradable and expandable with additional functions.” clarifies Koenen “This way our customers stay flexible and are able to keep pace with the evolving state of the art.”
The latest, most comprehensive overhaul of the alpha300 series to date has made it more flexible, more sensitive and even quicker than ever. Both outright performance and enhanced user-friendliness were prioritized in tandem. “We used our long-term experience and knowledge to optimize the alpha300 series.” explains Dr. Olaf Hollricher, CEO and Head of Development at WITec “The focus during development was clearly on quality and performance improvements, usability and flexibility.”
Vital to the most recent wave of technical innovation at WITec is the latest optical fiber technology; guaranteeing an extremely high light transmission rate while augmenting the inherent modularity of the alpha300 series. The WITec UHTS spectrometer series with an array of focal lengths and spectral ranges provides optimized spectroscopic systems for individual applications. Together with an extensive collection of microscope components and accessories, including many excitation sources and CCD cameras, WITec has greatly expanded its capabilities in providing customized solutions for specialized application requirements.
The new alpha300 access and the entire refreshed alpha300 series of scanning-probe microscopy systems are set to excite new and existing customers. Both innovations will be presented at the WITec booth at Analytica 2016, May 10-13 in Munich, Germany.
The award-winning WITec RISE microscopy mode for correlative Raman-SEM imaging is now compatible with the scanning electron microscope ZEISS MERLIN. The new hybrid system was jointly developed by the two German microscope manufacturers, bringing together a wealth of expertise in Raman spectroscopic imaging and advanced ultrastructural analysis. Customers benefit from both high-quality and sophisticated system components for state-of-the-art research in the fields of nanotechnology, life sciences, geosciences, pharmaceutics, materials research and others. The first system of this kind is currently being installed at one of the largest research institutions in South Korea.
Correlative microscopy involves using two or more microscopy techniques. RISE correlative microscopy combines a confocal Raman Imaging and a Scanning Electron (= RISE) microscope in a single system.
Raman microscopy, as a label-free, non-destructive technology for the identification and imaging of the molecular composition of a sample, is the perfect complement to SEM (scanning electron microscopy), which visualizes the surface structure of a sample, and the often-associated EDX (energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy) that can only identify elemental constituents.
The integration of both techniques into one system greatly improves ease-of-use and accelerates the experimental workflow. It places both the objective and sample stage required for Raman microscopy within the SEM’s vacuum chamber. Thus the sample can remain under vacuum for both measurements and is simply transferred between the Raman and SEM measuring positions by a software-driven push-button mechanism using an extremely precise scan stage.
"We look forward to our collaboration with ZEISS on the new RISE combination advancing the use and utility of Raman imaging in the SEM community”, says Philippe Ayasse, Business Developer for RISE microscopy.
“We believe that correlative RISE microscopy will be of immediate benefit in answering many scientific questions, with the integrated whole providing insight far greater than the sum of its already exceptional parts”, says Dr. Olaf Hollricher, CEO and Director of R&D at WITec. “The development of RISE microscopy is another example of WITec’s innovative strength. It fulfills the promise of correlative microscopy for both the Raman as well as the SEM communities.”
The combined system provides all functions and features of a stand-alone ZEISS SEM and a WITec confocal Raman microscope. Both SEM and Raman imaging are high-resolution imaging techniques. In Raman imaging mode the sample can be scanned through a range of 250 x 250 x 250 µm3. The microscope enables software-driven quick and convenient switching between Raman imaging and SEM, transformation of the Raman spectra into an image, and the ability to overlay both images to produce the RISE image. RISE microscopy pairs ease-of-use with exceptional analytical power and is therefore suited to a wide variety of applications such as nanotechnology, materials science and life sciences.
This week Ronja Schmitt, member of the German parliament, was visiting WITec. She informed herself about the current developments at the nanotechnology company during a tour around the science and innovations area “Science Park” of the city of Ulm.
WITec founders and directors Dr. Olaf Hollricher and Dr. Joachim Koenen showed her around and presented the latest product developments of nano-analytical microscope systems to her. During a short microscope demonstration Schmitt got a picture of the WITec application possibilities for research and development. At the end of the tour she accentuated the importance of innovative companies for the local business location.
From nearly 100 submissions for the 2016 WITec Paper Awards, the jury selected the three best publications: they document how through correlative microscopy information on the chemical and structural composition of a material can be linked for a more comprehensive understanding. The annual awards recognize outstanding scientific work published the preceding year that employed a WITec device as part of its experimental setup. The evaluation criteria include the significance of the results for the scientific community and the originality of the techniques used.
The 2016 Gold Paper Award is presented to Admir Masic (right in image) from the Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (Potsdam, Germany) and James Weaver (middle) from Harvard University (Cambridge, USA) for their microscopic analysis of the teeth of the red sea urchin by WITec representative Tavis Ezell (left). Its razor-sharp, extremely hard and lifelong-regenerating biting tools have long been regarded as a model system for the study of biomineralization. To analyze the molecular and elemental composition of the teeth, the researchers used confocal Raman microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). The combined use of these three techniques revealed the fine scale structural details of the teeth at a resolution not previously attainable. Chemical and structural data and images could be perfectly correlated: the hardest part of the T-shaped, calcium carbonate (calcite) teeth contains the highest concentration of magnesium. They conclude their report with the finding:
"The correlative Raman-SEM/EDX approach shows remarkable potential for the characterization of complex biological tissues and enables the acquisition of complementary information regarding structural complexity, elemental composition and short range chemical bonds. An "all-in-one" Raman-SEM device could therefore make this approach the method of choice for the high-throughput, "synchrotron-free" laboratory-based characterization of biological materials." WITec brought such an integrated device to market in the Fall of 2014; the Raman Imaging and Scanning Electron (RISE) Microscope.
The Silver Paper Award is conferred upon Fernando Rubio-Marcos, Adolfo Del Campo, Pascal Marchet and Jose Fernández from the Institute of Ceramics (Madrid, Spain). They analyzed barium titanate (BaTiO3), a ferroelectric material widely used in electroceramics, and found to their surprise that the domain walls of the material can be altered by polarized light. The effect was verified through Raman microscopy. The researchers believe that this light-stimulated behavior can lead to technological applications such as the development of data storage that can be read without contact, or remotely-controlled piezo-actuators.
The Bronze WITec Paper Award goes to the working group of Jeongyong Kim of Sungkyunkwan University (South Korea) for the detection of minuscule defects in single layers of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) using confocal Raman microscopy, high-resolution Scanning Near-field Optical Microscopy (SNOM) and electron microscopy. These defects were able to be sought out primarily by virtue of their photoluminescence (PL). The smallest structural defects however, those of only 20 nanometers, could not be investigated with a conventional confocal Raman microscope. For these measurements a WITec SNOM was required, with which high-resolution optical and Raman images could be recorded simultaneously. Thin MoS2 is a so-called two-dimensional material with the properties of a semiconductor. As the optical and electrical properties of semiconductors are strongly affected by defects and grain boundaries, their detection is of great importance.
Admir Masic and James Weaver: Large area sub-micron chemical imaging of magnesium in sea urchin teeth. J. Struct. Biol. 2015, 189: 269.
Fernando Rubio-Marcos, Adolfo Del Campo, Pascal Marchet and Jose F. Fernández: Ferrolectric domain wall motion induced by polarized light. Nature Communications 2015, 6: 6594.
Yongjun Lee, Seki park, Hyun Kim, Gang Hee Han, Young Hee Lee and Jeongyong Kim: Characterization of the structural defects in CVD-grown monolayered MoS2 using near-field photoluminescence imaging. Nanoscale 2015, 7: 11909