Unique extruder allows for small-scale testing

When developing new polymeric compounds or pharmaceutical formulations, conducting time and material intensive experiments on production scale extruders can significantly increase production costs. It would be ideal if material properties and the effects of additives on a product could be tested in small scale amounts before ramping up to full production.

Our partners at Thermo Scientific have developed an innovative instrument that allows for just that. It’s a unique small-scale extruder – called Process 11 – designed specifically to meet the key challenges faced by research and development formulation scientists.

“To our customers, laboratory space is at a premium and cost control is critical,” Karl Gerhard Hoppmann, Vice President and General Manager of Thermo Scientific’s material characterization business, said in a news release. “Our compact, stand-alone design is perfect for small-scale experiments yet robust enough to deliver results that are relevant to production conditions.”

The Process 11 uses a small amount of material (20 grams per hour) to conduct processing tests, which means that researchers can carry out an array of trials in a cost and labour effective manner. And the results from these tests are relevant to production conditions due to the full scalability of the Thermo Scientific process extruder product family. In other words, when you’re done testing the small amounts of material, transferring your results to pilot or production scale equipment is simple.

For researchers dealing with polymers, expensive materials and nano compounds, the Process 11 is the ideal solution.

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Multi-imaging platforms in microscopy

Flexibility can be the key to addressing a wide range of microscopy applications in many different fields of research. Structural, chemical and mechanical characteristics of materials can all be imaged and analyzed with an instrument that combines Confocal Raman Microscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). With an integrated platform, chemical information from Raman analysis can be directly linked to structural and mechanical data derived from AFM imaging, simultaneously, on the same spot on the sample.

Our partners at WITec offer a full line of near-field optical microscopy (NSOM), Confocal Raman Imaging and AFM instruments for materials research and nanotechnology. Their modular design allows for an integrated imaging platform that combines these techniques; providing high-resolution chemical and structural analysis on the same sample area at the same time using only one instrument.

Recently, WITec introduced the StrobeLock add-on that can be integrated with their entire Raman, AFM and SNOM lines of microscopes. This add-on provides another dimension to the WITec platform; fluorescence lifetime imaging.

“This exceptional development significantly extends the capabilities for the WITec microscope series and opens a new field of application for a more comprehensive sample characterization,” said Dr. Joachim Koenen, WITec co-founder and Managing Director, in a news release.

StrobeLock is a pulsed excitation laser system combined with a Time-Correlated Single-Photon Counting (TCSPC) detector.

Being able to switch between time-resolved and conventional mode means a microscope user can conveniently choose their preferred measurement technique. And that makes these instruments much more flexible.

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Testing product stability in a fraction of the time

Liquid consumer products based on emulsions, suspensions and foams, are becoming more complex than ever. Cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, paints, oils and foods are all inherently unstable products. Measuring their stability remains a key parameter for ensuring their quality.

Coalescence, flocculation, creaming and sedimentation are just a few ways a product can become unstable. Determining at what point destabilization begins to occur defines shelf life – and customers won’t be satisfied if a product begins to separate or otherwise destabilize before the ‘best before’ date.

Methods for estimating shelf life are often manual, time-consuming and subjective. A better way of coming to the same conclusion is by using an optical instrument that simulates the aging process of the product and determines how it will behave over time. These optical instruments focus light into the product which, after being scattered many times by the particles in suspension in the product, are detected and measured by the device to determine the point where the product’s perfect state starts to deteriorate. In other words, telling you the shelf life, or ‘best before’ date.

The Turbiscan technology was introduced by our partners at Formulaction more than 15 years ago to quickly and accurately analyze the stability of concentrated dispersions, allowing them to be characterized without any sample preparation – meaning it’s a non-intrusive method that doesn’t dilute the product. This method results in optical detection that is 50 times faster than the naked eye, and makes thermal acceleration up to 200 times faster than room temperature.

In other words, this technology has revolutionized the measurement of dispersion stability. And now Formulaction has revolutionized product stability research once again with the introduction of the Turbiscan Tower. It fully characterizes the stability of concentrated dispersions, and accelerates and documents ageing tests for a fast and deep understanding of destabilization mechanisms. And its innovative design allows for testing of up to six samples at once – dramatically reducing research and development time.

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Making high performance affordable

Atomic force microscopes (AFM) offer atomic-scale resolution for imaging applications in life sciences and materials research.

But AFM’s often come with a very expensive price tag – which can make it a challenge for scientists to afford this technology in these days of shrinking research budgets.

Earlier this month, our partners at Asylum Research introduced a high performance solution that expands the reach of atomic force microscopes to researchers with limited budgets for imaging instrumentation. This new AFM eliminates some of the more advanced accessories and features of the high-end models without sacrificing core performance.

“This is in stark contrast to some competitors who have taken old technology and repackaged it as entry-level AFMs with lower performance,” says Ben Ohler, AFM Business Manager, in an Asylum Research news release. “(This model) is based on the technology-leading MFP-3D AFM, known for closed-loop precision, high-resolution imaging, and low-noise force measurements.”

This model – the MFP-3D Origin – is great news for the AFM research community. It offers far more than just the basic scan modes that you’d expect in a more affordable model and it includes many advanced modes such as nanolithography, Dual AC Mode and piezoresponse force microscopy.

Like the higher-performance model it’s based on, it can be used for a variety of applications in material science, physics, data storage and semiconductors, polymers, chemistry, biomaterials and bioscience. The MFP-3D can be used for single molecule mechanical experiments on DNA, protein unfolding and polymer elasticity, as well as force measurements on biomaterials and polymers.

Until now, purchasing a lower cost AFM meant sacrificing resolution, scan speed, or the availability of sophisticated imaging modes. With the advent of the Origin from Asylum Research, a limited budget does not translate into limited research.

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SRC Blog: Seeking Unparalleled Levels of Support

While we’re always looking to partner with new principals and suppliers who allow us to bring innovative and exclusive products to our customers, we’re particularly interested in working with principals and suppliers who go the extra mile for their customers.

Those that do, offer an unparalleled level of support to their customers – in other words, to you, our customers. This is a measure in the confidence they have in their products. And by partnering with them, we can solidly stand behind the state-of-the-art instruments we sell for use in today’s modern research facilities.

One of these principals is Asylum Research, the technology leader in atomic force and scanning probe microscopy (AFM/SPM) for both materials and bioscience applications. Atomic force microscopy is a technique for analyzing the surface of a rigid material all the way down to the atom level and scanning probe microscopy provides images of surfaces using a physical probe to scan specimens. Both forms of microscopy involve precise measurement and calculation and the absolute certainty that the instruments being used perform exactly as expected.

As such, Asylum Research offers a five-year warranty on every one of its instruments. This type of warranty commitment is unique in the industry. And this kind of commitment keeps us at SRC on the cutting edge of high resolution imaging technology, backed by a guarantee that if an innovative technology doesn’t work exactly as it should, it will be made right for you.