Innovations in Profilometer-guided Raman Imaging
WITec, the inventor of topographic Raman imaging, has presented at Pittcon 2017 in Chicago the next generation of its patented TrueSurface optical profilometer. The combination of surface analysis and Raman spectral acquisition enables topographic Raman imaging on rough and uneven samples. One-pass simultaneous operation makes 3D Raman chemical characterization easier and faster than ever before.
We have documented the TrueSurface in a video.
“WITec established Raman topographic imaging with TrueSurface. We then continued to innovate, leveraging the inherent strengths of our systems,” says Dr. Olaf Hollricher, Managing Director of R&D at WITec. “The overwhelmingly positive feedback from our customers confirms that chemical 3D surface analysis with TrueSurface is a successful concept with an enthusiastic following in academia and industry.”
With the TrueSurface option, Raman spectra are acquired from precisely along a surface, or at a set, user-defined distance from a surface. This makes the distribution of chemical components within the sample visible in three dimensions. Rough, inclined or irregularly-shaped samples can be investigated with the same ease as standard samples. The requirements of sample preparation can therefore be drastically reduced.
As the TrueSurface sensor actively monitors and maintains a set distance between the objective and sample surface, its closed-loop operation can compensate for any variations during measurements with long integration times. This keeps the measurement area in focus at all times and produces sharp chemical Raman images with sub-micrometer resolution.
Investigations on pharmaceutical tablet coatings, geological samples, composite emulsions, complex semiconductor structures and many other applications can benefit from the ease of use, accelerated workflow and methodological advantages provided by the new TrueSurface.
“TrueSurface is for everybody who wants to just take a sample, as it is, and put it under a microscope for chemical analysis,” explains Dr. Joachim Koenen, Managing Director at WITec. "Also, the combination of confocal Raman imaging and optical profilometry provides additional information on the chemical distribution of the sample components that are of great benefit to our customers."
When did life on Earth begin? Based on new Raman data from microfossils, scientists have dated the origin of life to at least 3,77 billion years ago.
Bubbling submarine-hydrothermal vents are believed to be the places where life on Earth emerged. Whether that happened 3.5 or 3.7 billion years ago or even further into the past is subject of intense discussion in the scientific community. Why? Because it is hard to determine whether or not chemical traces in very old sedimentary rocks– so called microfossils – are metamorphosed products of biological organisms. Dominic Papineau, a geologist who has long followed the tracks of early life, and PhD student Mark Dodd, both from University College London (UK), along with colleagues used a microscopic approach to look for the answer. With optical microscopy they imaged thin sections from fragments found in the Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt (NSB) in Canada that once belonged to a very early oceanic crust. They identified 50 – 200 μm rosette-like structures.
Through chemical imaging performed with a WITec alpha300R confocal Raman microscope, the scientists could identify the compounds – calcite, haematite, quartz, magnetite and apatite - therein and their spatial distribution. Modern iron-oxidizing bacteria living in hot vents can form Fe-containing filaments and tubes. For that reason scientists believe that similar structures in much older rocks indicated biogenic origin. Similar structures found in Løkken jasper in Norway that geologically is somewhat younger than the NSB had already been attributed to mineralized bacteria. So the authors of the current study suggested that the carbonate rosettes they had seen are also of biogenic origin. They concluded: “Preservation in the NSV of carbonaceous material and minerals in diagenetic rosettes and granules that formed from the oxidation of biomass, together with the presence of tubes similar in mineralogy and morphology to those in younger jaspers interpreted as microfossils, reveal that life established a habitat near submarine-hydrothermal vents before 3,770 Myr ago and possibly as early as 4,290 Myr ago”.
In an email, Dominic Papineau wrote: “We used the WITec micro-Raman to map, down to sub-micron scales, the minerals associated with the oldest microfossils on Earth. This was vital to the discovery of key structures like rosettes, granules as well as minerals associated with the filamentous microfossils such as micron-size apatite, carbonate, and graphitic carbon, all of which point to the metamorphosed mineralised product of decayed microbial organic matter.”
Advanced functionality, accelerated workflow and enhanced hardware control
WITec, manufacturer of Raman and scanning-probe microscopes, presents a new operating concept with the powerful and intuitive Suite FIVE at Pittcon 2017. Sophisticated features and hands-on control transform the user experience, enabling the researcher to move from setup to results with unprecedented ease. Suite FIVE provides an integrated tool for data acquisition, evaluation and post-processing that enables researchers to quickly extract key information from their experiments. All Raman, AFM, SNOM and WITec correlative microscopy measurement modes are supported.
“Suite FIVE combines new functionality with a simplified operating concept that encompasses both software and hardware. The greater automation and intuitive interface speed up the process and improves the results of data acquisition and analysis. It’s altogether more accessible and powerful,” says Dr. Joachim Koenen, Managing Director at WITec.
Suite FIVE introduces several features for enhanced performance and usability:
A new software wizard guides the user through the complete investigation, from initial settings and acquisition through data and image post-processing. Presets and highlighted analytical paths accelerate the generation of high-quality images.
TrueComponent Analysis is a unique post-processing function for confocal Raman imaging measurements that automatically establishes the number of components in a sample, locates them in the image, and differentiates their individual spectra. This delivers meaningful, comprehensive information with one operation.
Hardware control from within the software has also been strengthened. The new handheld multifunction controller EasyLink provides a tactile and intuitive interface for directing the motorized stages, white light illumination, laser power, autofocus, cantilever positioning and objective selection with the new automated turret. This further integration of WITec’s hardware and software provides greater synergy and speed while transforming the user experience.
“TrueComponent Analysis is the standout technical achievement, without peer in the industry, though all the new features contribute to a transformed user experience. These are results-oriented developments with benefits that will be immediately apparent to the researcher,” says Dr. Olaf Hollricher, Managing Director of R&D at WITec.
WITec Suite FIVE will be presented at Pittcon 2017 Conference & Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois from March 5th to the 9th. See all the new WITec developments at booth #1638.
More information: http://www.witec.de/products/accessories/software-witec-suite/
WITec GmbH, industry leading manufacturer of scanning-probe nano-analytical microscopy systems, has opened a new office in Beijing. The facility in the cultural, scientific and administrative capital of the fastest growing large economy in the world will enable WITec’s current market presence to be expanded while better serving its growing client base. The direct local representation will offer sales and after-sales technical support along with customer event organization. On-site product demonstrations and sample measurements will provide an opportunity for scientists to witness first-hand the advantages of WITec’s Raman, AFM, SNOM and correlative microscopy solutions.
“China’s technological advancement is proceeding at an astonishing pace, with varied initiatives and a scale of investment second to none. Our innovative spirit will be a perfect fit for the dynamism there and our new office will ensure an open line of communication with the people looking to make breakthroughs,” says WITec co-founder Joachim Koenen.
According to the newly-appointed regional director for WITec’s China operations, Dr. Ding Shuo,“It’s exciting to handle the Chinese business of WITec, a renowned and pioneering German company working right on the edge of Raman and correlative microscope development. Their technology and expertise will benefit Chinese scientists from basic research to industry.”
Ding Shuo has a decade of experience in the high-performance microscopy industry in addition to a Doctorate in Physics and a Master of Business Administration. The WITec Beijing Representative Office is located in the German Centre of the Landmark Towers in the Chaoyang Central Business District.
The new office can be contacted through the following:
WITec Beijing Representative Office
Unit 507, Landmark Tower 1, 8 North Dongsanhuan Road, Beijing, PRC., 100004
phone: + 86 6590 0577
“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.