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October 2018

Conference Review: 15th Confocal Raman Imaging Symposium

The Confocal Raman Imaging Symposium, which took place for the 15th time in Ulm, was like a big family reunion with both familiar and new faces. The Ulm-based microscope manufacturer WITec invited researchers, engineers and scientists to discuss the latest developments in confocal Raman microscopy from September 24th-26th, 2018.

With over 100 participants from many countries, attendance at the international conference was strong again this year. For years, experts and beginners have been taking the opportunity to refresh and expand their knowledge of modern Raman microscopy. There were plenty of opportunities to do so in lectures and poster sessions, as well as directly with other attendees. Well-known speakers from academia and industry informed the audience about research results in their respective fields. In addition, the participants were able to present their work through posters and discuss it with each other. The program was supplemented by demonstrations of the latest confocal Raman microscopes. The evening lecture was given by the science comedian and physicist Vince Ebert, who entertained the international audience with precise and observant humor.

At the beginning of the Symposium, Sebastian Schlücker (University Duisburg-Essen, Germany) gave a lecture on the theoretical basics of Raman spectroscopy and provided insights into special Raman techniques that increase the resolution and amplification of the Raman signal. Schlücker then let the audience test their knowledge with an interactive quiz.

Olaf Hollricher (WITec GmbH, Ulm, Germany) described the technical possibilities of Raman microscopes and explained how results can be improved with suitable instrument configurations.

Katarzyna Marzec (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland) concluded the scientific presentations on the first day with a presentation of her work on correlative Raman microscopy in biomedical research. Marzec and colleagues use confocal Raman microscopy in combination with atomic force, near-field or fluorescence microscopy. They analyse biological tissues and cells to better understand and treat diseases such as arteriosclerosis, cancer and malaria.

The second day of the symposium started with a series of lectures on nanotechnology and low-dimensional materials. The lectures by Dirk Guldi (University of Erlangen, Germany) and Bo Peng (University of Electronic Science and Technology, Chengdu, China) dealt with research work that aims to improve the material properties of graphene, tungsten disulphide and molybdenum disulphide. These conductive nanomaterials are to be used in electronic devices in the future.

To begin the geoscientific lecture series, Guillaume Wille (BRGM Orleans, France) presented his investigations of polymorphic structures and asbestos using correlative Raman Imaging and Scanning Electron (RISE) microscopy. He combines the electron microscopy findings on sample morphology and nanostructure with the information on chemical mineral composition obtained by Raman microscopy. His investigations on asbestos allow health risks to be better identified and prevented.

Dominic Papineau (London Center for Nanotechnology, UK) delivered an overview of his comprehensive research results on geological samples. He is interested in the detection of organic compounds in rock in order to date the primeval occurrence of microbial life more precisely. Using Raman microscopy, Papineau and colleagues have recently been able to identify one of the oldest microfossils ever found.

Keith Gordon (University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand) detailed his chemical analyses of a wide range of different samples, including Maori archaeological fibers and hypomineralized teeth.

The materials science lecture series featured Martin Maiwald (Ferdinand-Braun-Institute, Berlin, Germany), who reported on SERDS, a method for removing interfering background and fluorescence signals from a Raman spectrum by means of two slightly different excitation wavelengths, which helps achieve better results.

Jagjit Nanda (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA) has been researching batteries for many years and was able to present extensive Raman analyses on the charge state of lithium-ion batteries.

Christian Timma (thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG, Duisburg, Germany) vividly reported on the establishment of confocal Raman microscopy for quality control in steel production in his company.

In the life sciences lecture series, Isaac Pence (Imperial College London, UK) explained his research results on tissue-engineered cartilage. Pence and his colleagues hope to obtain an accurate picture of the chemical and molecular components of the tissue in order to come as close as possible to the properties of natural tissue. Pence also used Raman microscopy to analyze differences in the lipid composition of the myelin layer between normal nerve tissue and the tissue of mice with multiple sclerosis. He also presented the SPARTA method, which allows the analysis of small nanoparticles in solution by Raman spectroscopy without staining.

Dieter Baurecht (University of Vienna, Austria) talked about the broad spectrum of questions that are brought to his laboratory from different disciplines that he tries to solve by using confocal Raman microscopy and AFM.

This was followed by short presentations selected by a jury from the submitted summaries of the research work of the Symposium participants. Hesham K. Yosef (Ruhr University Bochum, Germany) gave a lecture on pharmacokinetic investigations of lung and breast cancer cells. He uses correlative Raman fluorescence microscopy to analyze the uptake and conversion of the cancer drug neratinib in cell cultures and was able to show that receptors that are important for cell growth are degraded by its introduction. Eva Brauchle (University of Tübingen, Germany) presented her work on Parkinson's disease. Using Raman imaging, she investigates altered protein structures and the formation of aggregates in the neuronal tissue of rats. In the future, her research might help to obtain information about the course of the disease at an early stage. Vinayam B. Parambath (HIU, Ulm, Germany) researches the charging and discharging mechanisms of metal-sulphur batteries in order to make them more efficient in the future.

In the evening, the traditional conference dinner took place in the Ratskeller in Ulm. The Poster Award was also presented there. This year, the jury chose Dieter Fischer’s (Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research, Dresden, Germany) poster on microplastic particle analysis.

As a summary of the symposium, the participants stated that both the content and the implementation of the Symposium were thoroughly impressive. Many have already announced their participation for next year.

The attendees of the 15th Confocal Raman Imaging Symposium.

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June 2018

International Conference on Raman Imaging in its 15th Year

For the 15th time, WITec’s Confocal Raman Imaging Symposium will serve as the foremost platform for the Raman microscopy community to share recent developments and discuss the finer points of the technique. The annual international conference for chemical characterization and imaging will be held from September 24th to the 26th, 2018 in Ulm, Germany.

Raman Symposium Attendees 2017

The attendees of the last conference 2017.

The Symposium is a well-established forum for scientists from academia and industry of various levels of experience and areas of application. The conference schedule includes talks, poster sessions, instrument demonstrations and social events to foster the transfer of knowledge and experience between the conference attendees.

Lecture sessions in the fields of nanotechnology and low-dimensional materials, geo sciences, materials sciences, life sciences and pharmaceutics will provide a vivid overview of Raman microscopy applications. The latest developments in Raman instrumentation and technology will also be covered extensively.

2017 Vince Ebert Speaker 1 Michael Zargarinejad

Vince Ebert, physicist and comedian, will give the evening lecture at the second day of the symposium.

A special item on the conference schedule is the evening lecture of Vince Ebert, a German physicist and science comedian, who will illuminate the humorous side of science.

For more information on the conference program, speakers and registration, please visit: www.raman-symposium.com

The conference venue is located next to the Muenster in the heart of Ulm, Germany.

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May 2018

2018 WITec Paper Award for Outstanding Scientific Publications

Every year WITec, the Raman imaging company, recognizes three peer-reviewed publications that stand out in terms of originality and significance and feature data acquired with a WITec microscope. This year, scientists from universities and institutes in Bochum, Bayreuth and Minneapolis received the awards. Some 80 publications were submitted, all documenting the versatility of confocal Raman imaging for the investigation of materials.

 

The Gold Paper Award

The Gold Paper Award goes to Hesham K. Yosef. With his colleagues from the Department of Biophysics, headed by Klaus Gerwert, and coworkers from other institutes at Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany) he developed a new, non-invasive approach based on Raman imaging for the detection of urothelial carcinoma cells in urine. Urothelial carcinomas constitute the majority of bladder tumors. Noninvasive, painless methods are urgently wanted for the diagnosis of this cancer and the monitoring of the treatment outcome. The scientists first identified differences in the Raman spectra of healthy and high-grade cancerous cells in urine. The most prominent differences in Raman bands indicated a decrease in the level of glycogen and an increase in the levels of fatty acids in the tumor cells, illustrating distinct metabolic changes. The scientists then developed and trained a classifier that could differentiate healthy from cancerous urothelial cells by their Raman spectra. A Raman band at 482 relative wavenumbers, indicating a massive loss of glycogen in tumor cells, emerged as a highly reliable marker. A first validation test on the urine of ten diagnosed and ten healthy patients was performed and the classifier diagnosed all samples automatically with 100% accuracy. First author of the publication, Hesham K. Yosef, says that he is convinced that, “The results will pave the way for spectral, noninvasive cytology of urine using Raman microspectroscopy.”

 

The Silver Paper Award

Mimicking biological structures with interesting functional features is a thriving field of research. Marvin Gernhardt, Holger Schmalz, Seema Agarwal and coworkers at the Chair of Macromolecular Chemistry II, University of Bayreuth, and the Bavarian Polymer Institute (Germany) were inspired by biological fibers and developed new fibers with distinct structures. They produced the fibers by side-by-side electrospinning of a thermo-responsive polymer and methacrylate-based copolymer. By changing the spinning solvents they fabricated side-by-side and coaxial bead-on-string fibers and analyzed these in detail with correlative Raman imaging, atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The scientists concluded: “The work opens the way for the construction of heterostructured fiber morphologies based on different polymer combinations, offering high potential for applications as actuators, smart textiles, water management and catalysis.”

 

The Bronze Paper Award

Guanglin Yu receives the Bronze Paper Award. He and his colleagues from the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis (USA) analyzed, when and how ice crystals develop in cells during freezing. Cryopreservation is a common method used to store cells, however not all cells survive the procedure. It has been hypothesized that a high cooling rate leads to the death of cells because of intercellular ice formation. How that happens is still a matter of debate. The researchers used confocal Raman imaging to monitor the freezing response of lymphoblasts under various conditions during the cryopreservation process. Ice crystals, cell mass and protective substances could be easily imaged and identified by their Raman spectra. As a parameter of cell death, they used a Raman signal indicating the release of cytochromec from mitochondria. The imaging study showed that only the formation of large intracellular ice crystals (> 2 μm) is deadly for the cells and that a mixture of glycerol and trehalose prevented cell death most efficiently at a cooling rate of 10°C per minute. “Raman spectromicroscopy provides a powerful tool for observing IIF [intracellular ice formation] and understanding its role in cell death during freezing, and enables the development, to our knowledge, of new and improved cell preservation protocols,” concluded the authors in their paper.

 

2018 WITec Paper Award Winners

GOLD: Hesham K. Yosef, Sascha D. Krauß, Tatjana Lechtonen, Hendrik Jütte, Andrea Tannapfel, Heiko U. Käfferlein Thomas Brüning, Florian Roghmann, Joachim Noldus, Axel Mosig, Samir F. El-Mashtoly and Klaus Gerwert: Noninvasive diagnosis of high-grade urothelial carcinoma in urine by Raman spectral imaging. Analytical Chemistry 89, 6893 (2017), DOI 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b01403.

SILVER: Marvin Gernhardt, Ling Peng, Matthias Burgard, Shaohua Jiang, Beate Förster, Holger Schmalz and Seema Agarwal: Tailoring the morphology of responsive bioinspired bicomponent fibers. Macromolecular Materials and Engineering 303, 1700248 (2017), DOI. 10.1002/mame.201700248.

BRONZE: Guanglin Yu, Yan Rou Yap, Kathryn Pollock and Allison Hubel: Characterization intracellular ice formation of lymphoblasts using low-temperature Raman spectroscopy. Biophysical Journal 112, 2653 (2017), DOI 10.1016/j.bpj.2017.05.009.

 

The WITec Paper Award is an annual contest sponsored by WITec and awarded to author(s) to recognize his or her outstanding peer-reviewed publication featuring results acquired with a WITec instrument. Scientists from all fields of application in both academia and industry are invited to submit their publications to papers@witec.de. The deadline for submissions for the next Paper Award is January 31st, 2019.

First author Hesham Yosef (left) and senior author Klaus Gerwert receive the winner’s certificate from WITec’s marketing assistant Karin Hollricher. Copyright: RUB, Marquard

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May 2018

Confocal Raman Microscopy 2nd Edition – At bookstores now

Confocal Raman Microscopy, edited by members of the WITec team and part of the Springer Series in Surface Sciences, has been thoroughly revised and expanded for its 2nd Edition. The updated book is available now and features the latest developments in Raman techniques and instrumentation.

As with the 1st Edition, which has already established itself as the preeminent resource for the technique in labs and libraries around the world, the new edition provides a comprehensive overview of the fundamentals, practical considerations and real-world applications of Raman microscopy. Additionally, it has nearly doubled in number of chapters and now includes sub-sections on theory and technology, novel materials, geosciences, life and pharmaceutical sciences, materials science and a historical overview of the Raman effect. It also explores the rapidly evolving field of correlative microscopy by detailing how 3D Raman imaging can be integrated with other investigative methods to achieve a far greater understanding of a sample’s properties.

The 2nd Edition of Confocal Raman Microscopy, edited by WITec scientists Dr. Olaf Hollricher and Dr. Jan Toporski, can be purchased in print or e-book formats directly from Springer or through online shops. Order your copy today and have the current state of the art in Confocal Raman Microscopy at your fingertips.

Confocal Raman Microscopy
Editors: Jan Toporski, Thomas Dieing, Olaf Hollricher
ISBN: 978-3-319-75380-5

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March 2018

alpha300 Ri - New inverted confocal Raman microscope

WITec’s proven 3D Raman imaging functionality is now available in an inverted microscope.

WITec has launched the alpha300 Ri inverted Raman microscope. It combines the advantages of data acquisition from below with the established merits of 3D confocal Raman imaging, a powerful and versatile technique that can chemically characterize samples nondestructively and without labeling or other specialized preparation. The speed, sensitivity and resolution of the WITec alpha300 series are now available from a new angle. Research applications in the fields of life sciences, biomedicine and pharmaceutics will benefit in particular from the new setup.

The inverted beam geometry of the alpha300 Ri delivers many advantages in sample access and handling. Specimens in aqueous environments such as cell cultures can be examined more effectively. Standardized liquid sample holder formats can be quickly and easily mounted and measured. This accelerates the experimental workflow and helps ensure consistency. Investigations in materials science will be aided by the very large working area that can accommodate bulky samples and the set focal plane. The motorized sample stage also facilitates the mounting of environmental enclosures and other accessories.

Many modular components and upgrade possibilities developed for the WITec alpha300 series are compatible with the Ri version. Other microscopy techniques associated with inverted microscopes, such as fluorescence, differential interference contrast (DIC) and phase-contrast can also be easily integrated.

According to Olaf Hollricher, Director of Research and Development at WITec, “Researchers in life sciences are accustomed to working with inverted microscopes and their advantages for in vivo measurements, among others, are well-established. Developing a variant of our alpha300 confocal Raman imaging series with an inverted beam is a logical step in the evolution of our product line. Now the benefits of nondestructive, label-free molecular characterization are available from below the sample plane, backed up by all the modularity and upgradeability inherent in our systems.”

The WITec alpha300 Ri will be showcased at Analytica 2018 in Munich at the WITec booth A2/402. For more information, please visit the product webpage >>>.

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