TOOLS & TECHNIQUES UPDATE
Imaging in the wet QX-capsules from QuantomiX allow wet specimens to be imaged directly in their native environment using a standard scanning electron microscope (SEM). Suitable for materials science and cell biology applications, the single-use QXcapsules act as culture dishes to separate the wet samples from the SEM vacuum. They use an ultra-thin membrane that is transparent to electron beams, impervious to water, and strong enough to resist a one atmosphere pressure difference. Contact: www.quantomix.com
Stimulating new tissues EnduraTEC has enhanced its ELectroForce (ELF) 3200 dynamic testing instrument. A bioreactor chamber now allows the ELF 3200 system to be used for tissue stimulation studies as well as the characterization of biomaterials. Three-dimensional, cell-seeded constructs for tissue engineering can be fabricated, mechanically stimulated, and cultured in the biochamber subsystem. The sterile chamber only needs to be mounted in the instrument when mechanical stimulation is required. At other times, the ELF 3200 can be used for standard biomaterials testing including, for example, the characterization of ligaments, cartilage, bone, liver, vocal cords, and cardiovascular tissue. Contact: www.enduratec.com
Sound advice for EELS Gatan, Inc. is launching a simulation tool for electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) studies. EELS Advisor is a new plug-in module for the Gatan Microscopy Suite software system. The simulation functions help researchers design useful analytical transmission electron microscopy (TEM) experiments. The software can simulate EELS spectra, establish the best experimental parameters for data acquisition, and determine the best conditions for elemental mapping using energy filtered TEM. Contact: www.gatan.com
ideal excitation source for time-correlated single photon counting methods for measuring fluorescence lifetime and the wavelength is well matched to fluorophores such as fluorescein. Contact: www.jobinyvon.com
Slower electrons for higher resolution
Spectrometry on the move Newport Corp. is launching a self-contained, portable spectrometer that can be configured for various types of optical spectroscopy, including fluorescence, atomic emission, near-infrared absorption, and Raman. The OSM-400 spectrometer has a choice of spectral ranges from ultraviolet to near-infrared. The instrument has applications in diverse fields from semiconductor fabrication to chemistry and the life sciences, and is ideal for laboratory research and education. Optical input to the spectrometer is achieved directly through the input slit or via a fiber optic. A detector array of 2048 elements provides high resolution and wide spectral coverage. Data acquisition using a 12-bit A/D converter with a high dynamic range offers a resolution of up to 1 nm. OSM-400’s liquid crystal display and touch-screen controls can be used to analyze data in real-time. Battery operation provides up to four hours of continuous use.
Beam deceleration technology is now available as an option for Hitachi High-Technologies’ S-4800 field emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM). It improves resolution at low accelerating voltages by 30% so that a resolution of 1.4 nm is now possible at 1 kV. The technology uses a high accelerating voltage in the primary electron beam to reduce chromatic aberration and obtain a smaller spot size. A negative voltage is applied to the sample to decelerate the beam just before it hits the sample. This allows imaging to be carried out with the resolution characteristics of the primary beam but with the enhanced surface detail and reduced beam damage of a low accelerating voltage. Contact: www.hitachi-hitec-uk.com
Sensor finds new depths The TDM-200 sensor from Jobin Yvon monitors trench depths in microelectromechanical systems. The instrument can provide real-time, in situ measurements during etch and deposition cycles of the Bosch™ process for fabricating deep trenches. Depth is determined from the phase shift between two laser spots, one positioned on the mask and the other on the trench. An integrated CCD camera allows easy positioning of the two laser spots on the substrate. Absolute trench depths can be measured from a few nanometers to 100 µm with angstrom resolution. There is no need for synchronization signals from the etch tool and trench depth does not have to be calculated from an extrapolation of the etch rate. Jobin Yvon is also expanding its range of picosecond pulsed-laser diode sources with a new cyan laser source. NanoLED-14 emits pulses of <100 ps duration at a nominal wavelength of 475 nm. It is an
Image created using Auto-Montage Essentials of an Au pad on a circuit board.
Samples get new focus Auto-Montage Essentials software from Syncroscopy automatically creates an in-focus composite image of a three-dimensional sample from a series of microscope images focused at different heights. The software selects in-focus areas of bitmap, tiff, or jpeg image files from any digital camera. These are combined to produce a fully focused image. Special glasses can be used to view the images as true threedimensional anaglyphs. Comprehensive image editing features are included that can produce publication quality results. All generated images can be printed directly or saved in a range of formats for export into other programs. Contact: www.auto-montage.com