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June 2021

WITec GmbH joins Oxford Instruments plc

The management team of WITec GmbH is proud to announce that WITec was acquired by Oxford Instruments plc, a UK based company that has a great reputation in the scientific community, and in the future will be part of their Materials Analysis Group. WITec’s founders Dr. Joachim Koenen and Dr. Olaf Hollricher will continue as Managing Directors and the well-established WITec brand will be retained in the new organizational structure.

Founded in 1997, WITec grew from a small university spin-off into the most innovative Raman imaging company. It made exceptional progress in developing microscopy technology and installed more than a thousand Raman, AFM and SNOM systems worldwide.

“We look back on a 24-year track record of making WITec a prosperous and most innovative Raman imaging company. Now that we are joining the Oxford Instruments Group, we look forward to continuing this success together with a strong partner to grow even faster and to use existing synergies to further expand our reach into the range of markets that will benefit from our wide product portfolio,” Koenen said.

“WITec developed ground-breaking solutions in confocal Raman microscopy and correlative Raman microscopy. Oxford Instruments’ key technologies in AFM and scientific spectroscopic cameras with the brands Asylum and Andor puts WITec in an even better position for future developments,” Hollricher added.

Ian Barkshire, Chief Executive, Oxford Instruments said, “We are delighted to welcome WITec colleagues to Oxford Instruments. WITec’s leading Raman microscopy solutions are a great complement to our existing products and techniques. Raman microscopy is an important and widely used technique across academic and commercial customers for fundamental research, applied R&D and QA/QC. The technique is used in conjunction with and alongside our existing characterization solutions and broadens the capabilities that we can bring to existing customers and expands opportunities into new market areas. Providing a broader range of solutions helps us support our customers in facilitating a greener economy, increasing connectivity, improving health and achieving leaps in scientific understanding.”

Ian Wilcock, Managing Director of Oxford Instruments Nanoanalysis and Magnetic Resonance added, “We look forward to working with our new colleagues at WITec to develop new routes to market for their products. WITec’s RISE Raman for SEM product, for example, will ideally complement our own extensive suite of analyzers for electron microscopes.”

WITec will, of course, fulfill its obligations toward existing customers and business partners in the usual manner and the management team will work to make the transition as smooth as possible.

See the official press release from Oxford Instruments here.

 

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The companies’ representatives following the official announcement at WITec Headquarters in Ulm, Germany. From left to right: Joachim Koenen (Managing Director at WITec), Alexandra Lipes (HR Generalist at Oxford Instruments), Dirk Keune (Managing Director Germany and Director Sales EMEAI at Oxford Instruments) and Olaf Hollricher (Managing Director at WITec).

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June 2021

Observing polymerization reactions with Raman microscopy

Polymerization reactions are involved in many industrial processes and also occur in everyday tasks, for example during the hardening of glues and drying of paints and varnishes. In order to optimize their products, manufacturers require analytical methods for monitoring polymerization reactions and evaluating the influence of chemical modifications or additives such as catalysts. Here we use Raman imaging for monitoring the polymerization of an air-drying alkyd resin varnish. Such products are commonly used for protective coating of wood and other materials.

The liquid sample was applied to a microscope slide and the polymerization progress was characterized as a function of depth and time using a WITec alpha300 Raman microscope. To this end, an initial depth scan through the entire coating layer was recorded, followed by one per hour at the same sample position for a total of 25. Due to the system’s automated components, no user interaction was required during the entire investigation time of 24 hours. Each of the presented Raman images covers an area of 25 x 31 µm² and consists of 3900 spectra recorded in about 8 minutes.

First, all images were analyzed with the TrueComponent Analysis feature of the WITec Project software. Three components were identified by their Raman spectra and attributed to the liquid varnish, the polymerized product and the glass substrate. The image series clearly shows that the hardening process began at the interface between the air and the varnish and progressed through the sample over time (Fig. A and video). After 24 hours, the sample was almost completely hardened. A small stretch of unpolymerized sample was still present at the glass interface after 24 hours, but was no longer detectable when the sample was re-measured a few weeks later.

The spectra of liquid and solid varnish differed mainly in the intensity of the C=C stretching mode at 1654 cm-1 wavenumbers (Fig. B). As the C=C double bonds react during the polymerization, this peak’s intensity is drastically reduced in the Raman spectrum of the product. This enabled an even more detailed monitoring of the polymerization reaction. While the C=C stretching mode was decreased during the reaction, the C-H stretching mode (ca. 3072 cm-1) stayed almost constant. The ratio of these two peaks thus served as a measure for the polymerization progress. It was quantified for each pixel by peak fitting and the mean of each image line was plotted over the sample depth and the observation time (Fig. C). The graph illustrates in detail how the polymerization progresses over time into the deeper layers of the varnish.

For more examples for Raman imaging of polymers, visit our applications section about polymers or download our Application Note about polymeric materials.

Alkydharz WebNews

Polymerization reaction of an alkyd resin varnish monitored over 24 hours. 2D Raman depth scans at different times after the reaction start (A), color coded according to the Raman spectra (B) of liquid varnish (red), polymerized product (blue) and glass substrate (green). Polymerization progress versus depth and time (C). See text for more details.

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May 2021

WITec Paper Award 2021 recognizes three outstanding publications

Ulm, Germany  
May 6, 2021

Three scientific publications have been recognized by the WITec Paper Award, an annual competition among peer-reviewed articles from the previous year that feature results acquired with a WITec microscope. The exceptional quality of the 115 submitted publications made it particularly challenging to select only three winners. The Paper Awards for 2021 go to researchers from the UK, Turkey and the USA who performed Raman imaging measurements on zebrafish embryos, meteorites and jet engine thermal barrier coatings, respectively. WITec congratulates the winners and thanks all the participants.

  • GOLD: H. Høgset, C. C. Horgan, J. P. K. Armstrong, M. S. Bergholt, V. Torraca, Q. Chen, T. J. Keane, L. Bugeon, M. J. Dallman, S. Mostowy, M. M. Stevens (2020) In vivo biomolecular imaging of zebrafish embryos using confocal Raman spectroscopy. Nature Communications 11: 6172 www.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19827-1
  • SILVER: M. Yesiltas, M. Kaya, T. D. Glotch, R. Brunetto, A. Maturilli, J. Helbert, M. E. Özel (2020) Biconical reflectance, micro-Raman, and nano-FTIR spectroscopy of the Didim (H3-5) meteorite: Chemical content and molecular variations. Meteoritics & Planetary Science 55: 2404-2421 www.doi.org/10.1111/maps.13585
  • BRONZE: C. Barrett, Z. Stein, J. Hernandez, R. Naraparaju, U. Schulz, L. Tetard, S. Raghavan (2021) Detrimental effects of sand ingression in jet engine ceramic coatings captured with Raman-based 3D rendering. Journal of the European Ceramic Society 41: 1664-1671 (available online 2020) www.doi.org/10.1016/j.jeurceramsoc.2020.09.050

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



The Paper Award GOLD: Raman imaging of zebrafish embryos

Zebrafish are well-established model organisms in the life sciences and are frequently used for studying embryonic development and various diseases. Håkon Høgset from Imperial College London (ICL), UK, receives the Gold Paper Award 2021 for demonstrating the versatility of confocal Raman imaging for the biomolecular characterization of zebrafish embryos. Together with his co-workers from ICL and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, he established that the distribution of various biomolecules such as lipids and proteins can be visualized in an embryo on different length scales. First, 3D Raman images of entire, several-millimeter-long zebrafish embryos demonstrated Raman imaging of an entire organism. Second, high-resolution Raman imaging revealed microscale features of tissue sections from dorsal muscle, tail and gut. Raman imaging was next used to detect clusters of mycobacterial infection in a zebrafish model for tuberculosis. Based on metabolic differences, Raman spectroscopy could even distinguish between infections arising from different strains. Lastly, time-lapse Raman imaging monitored molecular changes during wound response in living embryos over several hours. The authors expect that, “the ability to perform volumetric and in vivo imaging in unlabeled embryos should provide a host of new opportunities for zebrafish research that can readily complement existing fluorescence imaging techniques.”

The Paper Award SILVER: Chemical characterization of meteorites

From the chemical composition of meteorites, planetary scientists can learn a great deal about their parent bodies’ history. “Studying meteorites and their parent bodies helps us understand how our solar system formed and evolved,” says Mehmet Yesiltas from Kirklareli University, Turkey, winner of the Silver Paper Award 2021. His publication presents a detailed chemical analysis of the Didim meteorite, which he investigated together with his colleagues from research institutions in Turkey, the USA, France and Germany. The Didim meteorite (named after Didim, Turkey, where it fell in 2007) is a chondrite with a relatively rare and varied mineralogical composition, making it especially interesting. The authors investigated its chemical composition on different scales using three spectroscopic methods. Biconical reflectance spectroscopy was used for an initial large-scale assessment and revealed mainly anhydrous silicates. Raman imaging then allowed for a more precise characterization of the rock’s minerals, including feldspars, olivine and pyroxene, and their distributions on the micrometer scale. Also, aromatic hydrocarbons of different thermal metamorphic grades were shown to exist in close proximity within the meteorite. Non-destructive 3D Raman imaging showed that the carbonaceous matter was present beneath an olivine grain inside the meteorite, suggesting its extraterrestrial origin. Furthermore, nano-FTIR spectroscopy indicated that the mineralogical composition of the rock varied even on the sub-micrometer scale.

The Paper Award BRONZE: Thermochemical degradation of ceramic coatings

Jet engines are protected against their extremely high operating temperatures by thermal barrier coatings (TBCs). Ingression of molten calcium, magnesium and alumino-silicates (CMAS) into a TBC during flight causes severe damage to it and shortens the engine’s lifetime. Chance Barrett from the University of Central Florida (UCF), USA, wins the Bronze Paper Award 2021 for presenting 3D Raman imaging as a non-destructive method for analyzing the CMAS-induced degradation of TBCs, together with his co-workers from UCF and the German Aerospace Center. CMAS ingression causes a transition of the TBC to the monoclinic phase. The volume fraction of this phase therefore represents a measure of the degree of degradation and it can be quantified with Raman imaging. 3D Raman maps of TBCs visualized the degradation as a function of depth. The damage was less pronounced in the core of the columns that form the TBC than at their edges, because the gaps between the columns were more accessible. Additionally, time-dependent measurements showed that most of the damage occurred during the first hour of CMAS infiltration. The results were validated by scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. To the authors’ knowledge, their study is the first to present a non-destructive 3D characterization of TBC degradation at high resolution. They postulate that, “This ability to quantitatively and non-destructively characterize degradation of CMAS infiltrated TBCs will accelerate development of degradation resistant coatings.”

 

Don’t miss your chance in the WITec Paper Award 2022

WITec invites scientists from all fields of application to participate in the Paper Award 2022 competition (www.witec.de/paper-award). Articles are eligible if they were published in 2021 in a peer-reviewed journal and feature results (at least partially) obtained with a WITec instrument. Submit your work as a PDF to papers@witec.de before January 31st, 2022. WITec is looking forward to receiving many outstanding publications again.

WITec PaperAward 2021 allWinners web

The winners of the WITec Paper Award 2021. From top to bottom: The Gold (© Håkon Høgset, Hybrid Technology Hub at the University of Oslo, Norway), Silver (© Mehmet Yesiltas, Kirklareli University, Turkey) and Bronze winning teams. High-resolution pictures and more detailed image descriptions can be downloaded below.

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April 2021

Imaging Enhanced: Today´s Raman Microscopy Applications

We're hosting a half-day virtual symposium in cooperation with Spectroscopy Online that will take place on May 19th at 1 p.m. EDT. 

This event will feature scientific talks from researchers in academia and industry. Exciting and resonant topics of presentations will include microplastics, 2D materials, human health, biology, geoscience and electrochemistry. The theoretical foundations of Raman imaging will also be covered and the considerations involved in achieving the very highest spectral and spatial resolution will be detailed. 

The first session is titled: Raman Imaging and its Potential in Earth & Life Sciences, while the second is: Raman Imaging for Comprehensive Materials Research. Question and answer forums will follow each session.

We cordially invite you to visit the conference page to view the full program and to register:

https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/imaging-enhanced-today-s-raman-microscopy-applications-a-sponsored-virtual-symposium

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February 2021

WITec ParticleScout™ Enhanced with New Features

The cutting edge of Raman-based microparticle characterization gets even sharper

Ulm, Germany  
February 1, 2021

WITec GmbH, the pace-setting leader in Raman microscope technology, has enhanced its ParticleScout automated particle analysis tool to offer even greater speed and versatility for finding, classifying and identifying microparticles. 

ParticleScout now includes integration time optimization that uses the signal to noise ratio to determine how long each particle is measured for identification. This not only greatly reduces overall measurement time, but also minimizes the effects of fluorescence.

“The first release of ParticleScout was a response to the general demand for a microparticle analysis system built around Raman spectroscopy,” says Harald Fischer, Marketing Director at WITec. “This version is driven by direct feedback from researchers and their specific requirements in laboratories focused on environmental research, food science, pharmaceutics and many other applications.”

The enhanced ParticleScout has added image processing features such as vignetting correction, smart zoom that displays particle information dynamically depending on viewed area, and multiple sample area targeting. These conveniences are complemented by the integration and possible combination of dark-field, bright-field, epifluorescence and transmission sample illumination.

A software routine has been introduced to accelerate measurements of round samples such as filters that contain homogeneously distributed particles. It allows a wedge section to be selected for analysis and the results can then be extrapolated to represent the whole. Another innovation is the smart separation of closely adjacent or touching particles. This is especially useful for densely packed, heterogeneous samples.

Data post-processing with WITec’s TrueMatch™ Raman database management software is updated as well, including the ability to identify individual components in mixed spectra. Hit quality index (HQI) calculation is also optimized with automatic noise reduction and substrate spectra removal. Together these advances enable a new degree of precision in sample characterization.

Finally, the quantitative report that summarizes the results of a ParticleScout investigation can now be formatted with pre-configured templates such as tables, bar graph histograms or pie charts for clear and effective data presentation.

For more on the very latest in automated particle analysis technology, please visit our product page:
www.witec.de/particlescout/

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ParticleScout's new integration time optimization feature: Time saving and efficient

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December 2020

alpha300 apyron nominated for Best New Spectroscopy Product of 2020

WITec’s alpha300 apyron fully automated Raman microscope has been recognized by the SelectScience Scientists’ Choice Awards with a nomination in the category of “Best New Spectroscopy Product of 2020”. We’re very grateful to be in the running for this award, and sincerely appreciate the support that our customers have expressed for our most advanced microscope ever.

The Scientists’ Choice Awards are an industry-wide competition held every year to highlight the new laboratory products that have been most useful to scientists in their work. The researchers themselves directly nominate, review, and vote for the winners.

The alpha300 apyron brings a new level of automation to correlative Raman imaging microscopy by featuring self-optimization and remote operation capabilities. Its software-driven motorized components accelerate experimental setup while reducing user workload and researchers working from home or using environmental enclosures such as glove boxes can acquire data with the click of a mouse.

Vote here for the alpha300 apyron and you could win a $500/£400/450€ Amazon Gift Card:

https://www.selectscience.net/editorial-articles/vote-for-best-new-general-lab-and-analytical-chemistry-products-in-the-scientists-choice-awards/?artID=53402

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December 2020

WITec supports Albert Einstein Discovery Center with 5,000 Euros

This year, instead of sending Christmas presents to its customers, WITec GmbH is donating 5,000 Euros to the Albert Einstein Discovery Center Association. "As a manufacturer of microscopy systems from Ulm, and through our close connection to physics, it is especially important to us to help make the Albert Einstein Discovery Center a reality," emphasized Dr. Olaf Hollricher, co-founder and head of research and development at WITec. The donation was presented at WITec headquarters in Ulm’s Science Park by Dr. Hollricher and Dr. Joachim Koenen to Dr. Nancy Hecker-Denschlag, Chairwoman of the Albert Einstein Discovery Center Association. Dr. Hollricher added, "I think it’s a good and important effort to create a place that honors this monumental physicist and provides an opportunity to experience his work in the place of his birth."

The Science City of Ulm should live up to its name. Until now, there hasn’t been a scientific museum that illustrates the revolutionary ideas of Albert Einstein, the world's most famous and renowned son of the city of Ulm. The future experience and discovery center will both tell the story of Albert Einstein's life and present his theories and research results. "We need to take advantage of the momentum that now exists and move forward to build this museum soon," explains Dr. Olaf Hollricher. Dr. Nancy Hecker-Denschlag, Chairwoman of the Albert Einstein Discovery Center Association, expressed her happiness with the response, "It's great that so many successful companies from Ulm are participating in the project. So we're all pulling in the same direction, because we're not just doing something for Ulm, we want to create a center of global interest." Those who wish to join the association can already benefit from the lectures and roundtable discussions it hosts and will also soon be able to take part in excursions that cater to the scientific interests of its members.

Albert Einstein Discovery Center home page:
https://einstein.center/?lang=en

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(Left to Right) Dr. Joachim Koenen, Dr. Olaf Hollricher and Dr. Nancy Hecker-Denschlag

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December 2020

WITec in Japan and the Chiba Institute of Technology, Japan, cooperate to analyze microplastics (< 20 µm)

WITec GmbH, the German manufacturer of high-performance Raman, AFM, SNOM, and correlative nano-analytical microscopy systems, announces a new cooperation in Japan for particle analysis.

Dr. Yutaka Kameda, Associate Professor at the Chiba Institute of Technology (CIT) in Japan, and his team have been working very successfully for several years on the analysis of microplastics in the environment. One example is the development of a unique interactive mapping system for microplastics that uses sea water collected from all over the world by tankers from Nippon Yusen Kaisha with a standardized sampling method that ensures reproducible results. These projects focus on particles with a size of 20 µm or larger. However, it is expected that much smaller microplastics, down to a size of 1 µm, are most problematic for all organisms.

WITec has developed the technology necessary for the highly efficient and precise analysis of these tiny particles. It enables the automated classification, chemical identification, and quantification of particles over a large sample area. WITec will carry out the sample measurements conducted under this new cooperation using these capabilities.

During the kick-off meeting, Dr. Kameda said, “We have several ongoing and future projects that look at microplastics in the environment, such as monitoring sea water samples from all over the world as well as analyzing tap water, wastewater, etc. in Japan. With these projects, we focus on particles with a size of greater than 20 micrometers. Having a reliable analytical method available for even smaller microplastics would be a big step forward. In addition, we want to establish a method of monitoring microplastics in the atmosphere. With the air that we breathe every day a substantial amount of microplastics gets into our body.  It is expected that especially the smaller particles are very harmful to health. The cooperation with WITec opens up an opportunity to establish an analytical method that can identify and quantify these tiny particles in air.”

Michael Verst, director at WITec in Japan, said, “It is a great honor for us to cooperate with CIT. Dr. Kameda and his team are well known for their excellent research in environmental chemistry. Their projects that investigate microplastics are especially esteemed. We are convinced that combining WITec’s high-performance technology with the knowledge and experience of Dr. Kameda and his team, will reveal new insights about the state of our environment. A precise and efficient analytical method will hopefully lead to better ecological monitoring and the improvement of our living conditions and health.”

Plastic is everywhere, in our food, air, rivers and oceans. There are indications that very small particles are exceptionally hazardous. We hope that our cooperation will make an important contribution to better understanding this topic.

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Left: Dr. Yutaka Kameda – Chiba Institute of Technology, Right: Michael Verst – WITec Japan

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December 2020

WITec China moves into a new Beijing office

To keep pace with the rapid growth of the Chinese market for scientific instruments, WITec’s representative office in Beijing has moved to a larger space, now in the Air China Plaza Tower.

Our new location features a dedicated equipment demonstration laboratory where visitors can experience our latest technologies in person, and see the advantages they provide in action. Our Beijing team is also ready to receive visitors and offer consultations regarding the best instrument configuration for researchers’ individual requirements.

If you have any questions about our microscopes, or if you’re interested in having our applications scientists in China perform measurements on one of your samples, please contact us at the address below:

WITec Beijing Representative Office
德国威泰克(WITec)北京代表处
北京市朝阳区霄云路36号国航大厦1幢13层1307A室,100027
Unit 1307A, Air China Plaza Tower 1, No. 36 Xiaoyun Road,
Chaoyang District, 100027, Beijing, China

+ 86 (0) 10 6590 0577
info.china@witec-instruments.com
www.WITec.de/cn

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November 2020

WITec Wins Wiley Analytical Science Award 2021

ParticleScout recognized by readers as an outstanding innovation

Ulm, Germany
November 24th, 2020

WITec GmbH, innovator of Raman and correlative imaging microscopes, has received a Wiley Analytical Science Award 2021 for its ParticleScout automated particle analysis tool. ParticleScout won 2nd Place in the category: Spectroscopy and Microscopy.

This award celebrates outstanding innovation in equipment used for scientific analysis. A neutral jury of experts at Wiley created a shortlist from the full range of submissions, and then the readers of the print and digital editions of Wiley Analytical Science’s portfolio of journals voted for their favorites. The winners were announced during the Wiley Analytical Science Conference 2020.

“We’re very honored that ParticleScout has been recognized with this award, especially as it was chosen directly by Wiley’s readers,” said Harald Fischer, Marketing Director at WITec. “Being selected as a finalist and then supported by so many individuals I think reflects the strength of our technology, and also a wider awareness that precisely measuring microparticles and microplastics in our environment is an important and timely capability.”

ParticleScout is an advanced particle analysis tool that uses white light and Raman microscopy, a fast, label-free and non-destructive chemical characterization method, to find, classify, identify and quantify microparticles. It streamlines the entire microparticle analysis workflow, increasing the rate at which measurements can be performed and the number of particles that can be evaluated.

ParticleScout’s features include the ability to detect particles less than 1 µm in size, a variety of user-definable Boolean filters for particle categorization, and full integration with a Raman spectral database management software for sample component identification.

WITec ParticleScout product page:
https://www.witec.de/particlescout/

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