News

October 2019

Nobel Prize 2019 winner John B. Goodenough uses WITec Raman microscopes for Li-Ion Battery research

This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino "for the development of lithium-ion batteries."

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2019/summary/

Raman microscopy is a well-established and compelling technique for the characterization of electrochemical materials. John B. Goodenough’s research group at the University of Texas in Austin relies on a WITec alpha300 R for spectroscopic Raman imaging. (http://tmi.utexas.edu/core-facilities/equipment/witec-micro-raman-spectrometer-alpha-300/)

Most recently, the group at the Texas Materials Institute and the Cockrell School of Engineering has published some of their latest findings using Raman Imaging among others to investigate improved electrodes and electrolytes:

Exceptional oxygen evolution reactivities on CaCoO3 and SrCoO3
Xiang Li, Hao Wang, Zhiming Cui, Yutao Li, Sen Xin, Jianshi Zhou, Youwen Long, Changqing Jin and John B. Goodenough
Science Advances 09 Aug 2019: Vol. 5, no. 8
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav6262
https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/8/eaav6262.full

Garnet Electrolyte with an Ultralow Interfacial Resistance for Li-Metal Batteries
Yutao Li, Xi Chen, Andrei Dolocan, Zhiming Cui, Sen Xin, Leigang Xue, Henghui Xu, Kyusung Park, and John B. Goodenough
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 6448−6455
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jacs.8b03106

Polar polymer-solvent interaction derived favorable interphase for stable lithium metal batteries
Jiwoong Bae, Yumin Qian, Yutao Li, Xingyi Zhou, John B. Goodenough, Guihua Yu
Energy Environ. Sci., 2019, Advance Article
https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2019/ee/c9ee02558h/

 

WITec would like to congratulate John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for winning the 2019 Nobel Prize.

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October 2019

Conference Review: 16th Confocal Raman Imaging Symposium

The international chemical imaging community gathered once again in Ulm, Germany to share and discuss results, methods and technologies related to Raman microscopy. Almost one hundred attendees heard presentations arranged into distinct sessions under the headings: Nanotechnology and Low-dimensional Materials, Geosciences, Life Sciences, Applied Chemical Analysis, and Contributed Talks. Poster sessions provided a relaxed forum for browsing the many scientific results entered into this year’s Poster Award competition and a fascinating evening lecture looked at the entirety of progress in microscopy.

A grand total of seventeen presentations were delivered from the stage of the Ulm Stadthaus’s auditorium. Sebastian Schlücker (University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany) set the conference in motion with his introductory lecture on the theoretical background of Raman spectroscopy, including its classical and quantum mechanical descriptions, and its use in microscopy. An accompanying interactive quiz let the audience test their understanding of the physics behind the Raman effect. Olaf Hollricher (Managing Director-Research and Development, WITec GmbH) then detailed Raman imaging instrumentation, including spectrometers, detectors and software tools, in addition to describing considerations such as resolution and throughput. José Fernández (Instituto de Ceramica y Vidrio, CSIC, Madrid, Spain) then explored the combination of other methods with Raman imaging in his talk on correlative microscopy techniques.

Following the first poster session, it was time for the evening lecture. Charles Lyman, the Chief Editor of Microscopy Today, reviewed the course of innovation in microscopy while providing technological and historical context. He categorized advances as either revolutionary or evolutionary and reserved the term “breakthrough” for those that enabled scientists to see something previously inaccessible and that led to the establishment of a new field of study. This comprehensive account of the development of microscopy closed out the first day of the Symposium.

The second day of the conference began as it should, with coffee, and the fluent multidisciplinary exchange of ideas that the event has become known for. The first session of the day was dedicated to nanotechnology and low-dimensional materials. Yuan Huang (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China) presented measurements of molybdenum disulfide and showed how Raman and photoluminescence can be used to monitor their strain-induced properties. Holger Schmalz (University of Bayreuth, Germany) showed how his work on electrospun multicomponent polymer fibers, particles and mesostructured systems benefits from Raman imaging. Nanostructured and composite membranes, Janus fibers and biohybrid microparticles were among the application examples he included in his talk. The session concluded with a presentation from Simon Thiele (Forschungszentrum Jülich and Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy, Erlangen, Germany) on serial section-based Raman tomography. The process of compiling 2D Raman scans into 3D images was memorably visualized with slices of marble cake.

Geosciences were the focus of the next session, and two groups showed the audience the depth of the information that can be extracted from mineralogical samples. Maria Alexandrovna Sitnikova and Khulan Berkh (Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Hannover, Germany) offered a view into their research on distinguishing polymorphs using RISE (Raman Imaging and Scanning Electron) microscopy and included an example of 3D Raman imaging’s ability to reveal melted inclusions below a sample surface. Linda Prinsloo (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa) presented her work on prehistoric stone tools that provides insight into human technological development. She carefully observes the response of rocks to heat to understand the production processes used to create them. Trace substances such as fatty acids found on the tools also tell us about how our ancestors employed their technology.

The next session featured applications of Raman in the life sciences. Katja Schenke-Layland (University of Tübingen, Germany) began with her investigations of engineered tissues for personalized medicine and monitoring of phenotype switching, including examples of smooth muscle cells for cardiovascular tissue and pseudo-islets expressing insulin trapped on a chip. Peter Vikesland (Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA) detailed the method of surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and described how surface plasmon enhanced elastic scattering signals can be used as internal standards to compensate for the signal heterogeneity of SERS substrates.

Applied chemical analysis was the common thread of the next session and Lars Meyer (BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany) started it off with a medley of analytical tasks that he addresses in his industrial laboratory using Raman imaging. For example, he showed how gypsum crystallization can be monitored and its rate of formation regulated through polymer additives. Erik Emmons (U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen, USA) employs Raman microscopy for the analysis of samples relating to chemical, biological and explosives defense. His talk featured results of explosives detection from fingerprints and showed the ability of Raman microscopy to distinguish between viable and deactivated biological spores.

The contributed talks that concluded the second day at the Ulm Stadthaus were dispatches right from the forefront of Raman technology. Patrick Altmann (attocube systems AG, Haar, Germany) presented several examples of cryogenic Raman spectroscopy and imaging in high magnetic fields for research on low-dimensional materials and showed how the Raman spectra of a single graphene flake can be affected by changes in magnetic field strength. Bastian Barton (Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF, Darmstadt, Germany) explained how he uses 3D Raman imaging for analyzing multicomponent polymers and the ways in which additives can serve as flame retardants and structural reinforcements. An example he provided was a 3D representation of the core-shell structure of lubricant-containing microcapsules embedded in a polymer matrix. Emil Bjerglund (Danish Technological Institute, Aarhus, Denmark) gave a talk that concerned the detection of document fraud. He showed how forged receipts can be revealed by using Raman spectroscopy to chemically analyze the ink, as its spectra change slightly over time. The non-destructive and label-free nature of the technique is essential for this application. Armin Zankel (Graz University of Technology, Austria) wrapped up the session with a look at the combination of Raman imaging, electron microscopy (RISE) and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. His example measurements from materials science included vivid depictions of polymers and several mineralogical samples.

As the day turned to evening the attendees reconvened in the historic City Hall of Ulm for the conference dinner and the announcement of the winner of the Poster Award. Locally brewed refreshments and traditional Swabian culinary specialties accompanied discussions of the research presented. The competition between twenty-five scientific posters was intense and many favorites emerged among the guests. The jury had the difficult task of choosing only one and ultimately selected Birgit Bräuer of the University of Vienna as the winner of the 2019 WITec Poster Award. Her submission, Surface Characterization of Escherichia coli-imprinted Polymers using Confocal Raman Microscopy, is a striking demonstration of the utility and versatility of the technique in establishing the presence or absence of bacteria in a sample.

The third day of the Symposium brought the attendees from the city center up to WITec headquarters for demonstrations of the very latest in confocal Raman imaging and correlative microscopy instrumentation. For many, it was their first opportunity to see technologies such as the ParticleScout microparticle analysis tool in action.

The 16th Confocal Raman Imaging Symposium was once again a resounding success, with the variety of application fields represented and the balance between multidisciplinary appeal and scientific depth maintaining the exceptional standard established by previous years.

The 17th Confocal Raman Imaging Symposium will take place from September 28th - 30th, 2020.

Birgit Bräuer, winner of the 2019 WITec Poster Award (left), with WITec’s managing director Joachim Koenen (right) at the award ceremony.
Her poster titled „Surface Characterization of Escherichia coli-imprinted Polymers using Confocal Raman Microscopy“ presents a method for detecting bacteria using Raman microscopy and is available for download.

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September 2019

WITec alpha 300 Ri wins SelectScience Seal Of Quality after many positive customer reviews

Having already received the SelectScience Scientists' Choice Award, the inverted Raman microscope alpha300 Ri has also now been awarded the Bronze Seal of Quality after receiving many positive reviews from customers.

SelectScience® Seals of Quality recognize products that have consistently received the best reviews from scientists around the world and are designed to further assist scientists in making important purchasing decisions for their laboratories.

We at WITec are very grateful to all our customers who wrote the extensive and positive reviews of our alpha300 Ri and we hope to receive many more in the future.

In an interview with SelectScience, Marketing Director Harald Fischer explains why the SelectScience review program is a great tool for WITec: "Our sales force can direct potential customers to SelectScience, so that they can learn how happy other customers are with our products. [...] I think the reviews are very important, because [...] the scientists can learn from each other." See the full interview on SelectScience.net: www.selectscience.net/SelectScience-TV/Videos/&videoID=4651.

 

Learn more about the WITec alpha300 Ri.

Read customer reviews for the alpha300 Ri on SelectScience.net.

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July 2019

2019 WITec Paper Award

WITec is pleased to announce the winners of the annual Paper Award, which recognizes three outstanding peer-reviewed articles from the previous year that feature data acquired with a WITec microscope. Choosing from among the many excellent publications is never an easy task and WITec thanks all the researchers who submitted their work. This year’s winners are scientists from Austria, England and Finland, who used Raman imaging in their studies of heartwood formation, the origin of Palaeoproterozoic granules and threading dislocations in a semiconducting material.

 

The Paper Award GOLD

The oldest trees are several thousand years old. How do they reach such an impressive age? During heartwood formation, many trees produce substances which protect them against bacteria, fungi or insects. Martin Felhofer from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, receives the Gold Paper Award 2019 for his research on such impregnating substances, together with his colleagues Batirtze Prats-Mateu, Peter Bock and Notburga Gierlinger. Using confocal Raman imaging, they revealed the sub-cellular distribution of pinosylvins and lipids in different parts of pine tree sections. Both compounds co-localized, but their ratio changed during heartwood formation. While pinosylvins dominated in the heartwood, the sapwood contained mainly lipids. Spruce sapwood usually doesn’t produce pinosylvins. Nevertheless, in vitro impregnation of spruce sapwood with pine extract reproduced the distribution patterns from pine.  Thus, the authors hypothesized that the “symbiotic relationship between pinosylvins and lipids” is important for the impregnation process during heartwood formation and protection of the wood against decay.

 

The Paper Award SILVER

Traces of early microbial life on Earth can be found in the form of their biosignatures preserved in sedimentary rocks. Valuable information on the origin of life can thus be gained from the characterization of sediments. However, deciding if the organic material in sediments is actually of biological origin is not always straightforward. Matthew S. Dodd from University College London, UK, receives the Silver Paper Award 2019 for investigating the origins of granular iron formations (GIFs) together with his colleagues Dominic Papineau, Zhenbing She, Marilyn L. Fogel, Sandra Nederbragt and Franco Pirajno from research institutions worldwide. The origins of GIFs continue to be debated. There are publications that provide support for theories of sediment reworking, mineral precipitation or biological origins. Together with his colleagues, Matthew Dodd characterized Palaeoproterozoic granules from various locations around the world (China, USA, Canada and Australia) using Raman imaging and other techniques. They discussed their findings with respect to potential origins of the granules and found that biological processes and chemically-oscillating reactions played a key role in GIF formation in all locations, although other processes may have contributed as well. For example, some GIFs originated from diagenetic reactions, in which organic matter was oxidized while sulphate or ferric iron was reduced by sulphate- or iron-reducing bacteria. The authors concluded that, “As such, granules have excellent potential to be considered as promising biosignatures for studying Precambrian biogeochemistry, as well as astrobiology.”

 

The Paper Award BRONZE

Optoelectronic devices, such as light-emitting diodes, detectors, satellites or solar cells, are often produced from gallium nitride (GaN) due to the advantageous properties of this semiconducting material. Methods for growing high-quality GaN crystals are thus required and defects in the crystals need to be detected efficiently and without damaging the sample. Joonas T. Holmi from Aalto University in Finland receives the Bronze Paper Award 2019 for showing how 3D Raman imaging can characterize threading dislocations (TDs) in α-GaN crystals, together with his colleagues Bakhysh H. Bairamov, Sami Suihkonen and Harri Lipsanen. TDs cause local stress in the α-GaN crystal, a defect that is not visible in a wide-field image. However, the stress field causes some peak shifts in the Raman spectrum. Quantifying the Raman peak shift of E2H at each position on the crystal surface made it possible to locate the distortions and estimate the TD density. By recording z-stacks, the propagation of the stress field into the crystal volume could be visualized in 3D. The described method could even characterize the TDs further, distinguishing between edge a-type and mixed a+c-type TDs and the authors discuss how the method can be extended to also identify screw c-type TDs. They conclude by recommending 3D confocal Raman imaging for characterizing TD types in ammonothermally grown α-GaN crystals.

 

The WITec Paper Award 2019 Winners

  • GOLD: Martin Felhofer, Batirtze Prats-Mateu, Peter Bock, Notburga Gierlinger (2018) Antifungal stilbene impregnation: transport and distribution on the micron-level. Tree Physiology 38, pp. 1526-1537. doi.org/10.1093/treephys/tpy073
  • SILVER: Matthew S. Dodd, Dominic Papineau, Zhenbing She, Marilyn L. Fogel, Sandra Nederbragt, Franco Pirajno (2018) Organic remains in late Palaeoproterozoic granular iron formations and implications for the origin of granules. Precambrian Research 310, pp. 133-152. doi.org/10.1016/j.precamres.2018.02.016
  • BRONZE: Joonas T. Holmi, Bakhysh H. Bairamov, Sami Suihkonen, Harri Lipsanen (2018) Identifying threading dislocation types in ammonothermally grown bulk α-GaN by confocal Raman 3-D imaging of volumetric stress distribution. Journal of Crystal Growth 499, pp. 47-54. doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrysgro.2018.07.024

For a list of all previous Paper Award winners, please visit www.WITec.de/paper-award.

High-resolution pictures of the award ceremonies can be downloaded.
Gold: www.witec.de/assets/Uploads/PaperAward2019-Gold.jpg
Silver: www.witec.de/assets/Uploads/PaperAward2019-Silver.jpg
Bronze: www.witec.de/assets/Uploads/PaperAward2019-Bronze.jpg



WITec announces the Paper Award 2020

Scientists from all fields of application are invited to participate in the Paper Award 2020 (www.WITec.de/paper-award). Articles published in 2019 in a peer-reviewed journal that feature data obtained with a WITec microscope can be submitted to papers@WITec.de by January 31st, 2020. WITec is looking forward to receiving many outstanding publications again.

The winners
Gold (top): From left to right: Co-author Peter Bock, first author Martin Felhofer, senior author Notburga Gierlinger and WITec sales manager Thomas Olschewski.
Silver (middle): Team leader Dominic Papineau (middle) and WITec representative Adrian Knowles (left). First author Matthew Dodd (right) is now working in China.
Bronze (bottom): From left to right: Co-author Bakhysh Bairamov, first author Joonas Holmi and WITec representative Kim Grundström.

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June 2019

Fernando Vargas appointed new Vice President of WITec Instruments Corporation

WITec GmbH, leading manufacturer of Raman and scanning-probe microscopes, has named Dr. Fernando Vargas as Vice President of WITec Instruments Corporation, its USA-based subsidiary, and Area Manager of the USA market.

As a longtime WITec team member with a background in physics, Vargas has extensive experience in both the scientific application and strategic sales of WITec microscopy solutions. He has served for years as the Area Manager for Latin America and will continue to do so in addition to his new roles. As VP and Area Manager for the USA, Vargas will ensure that WITec continues to expand its presence as a manufacturer of high-quality confocal Raman microscopes in the United States and builds on the strong record of effective communication with the scientific community and industry established by the WITec Instruments Corp. team in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“Fernando Vargas will bring wide-ranging expertise to our USA operations while being integral to our headquarters here in Germany. We’re excited to further the development of our market visibility and customer base in the world’s largest national economy,” says Dr. Joachim Koenen, CEO of WITec.

 

Dr. Fernando Vargas
VP WITec Instruments Corp., Area Manager USA and Latin America
Lise-Meitner-Str. 6
89081 Ulm, Germany
Tel: +49 (0) 731 140700
Fernando.Vargas@witec.de

New Vice President of WITec Instruments Corporation and Area Manager for USA and Latin America

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