WITec Reveals New Generation alpha300 apyron - Automated Raman Imaging Microscope with AutoBeam™ Technology.
Self-aligning, self-optimizing system keeps the focus on results.
April 28th, 2020
WITec GmbH, pioneer of Raman imaging and correlative microscopy, establishes the next level of automation and user-friendliness with the introduction of the new alpha300 apyron. Its AutoBeam technology unlocks the full potential of WITec’s industry-leading alpha300 series. The alpha300 apyron’s entirely new optical, analytical and remote operation capabilities mark the furthest advance yet in speed, sensitivity and resolution.
The alpha300 apyron can self-align and self-calibrate, which substantially reduces the researcher’s experimental workload by requiring less user input, enhancing reproducibility and eliminating potential sources of error. This is made possible by a complete set of WITec’s AutoBeam opto-mechanical components, a new and versatile tool kit that can be configured to create the perfect experimental setup for every investigation.
New functionalities provided by AutoBeam modules include polarization-dependent measurements with motorized polarizer and analyzer rotation, push-button spectrometer connection and signal maximization, and automated adjustment of both iris diaphragms. Software-driven automation also allows the alpha300 apyron to be operated completely remotely, whether in an environmental enclosure such as a glove box, or from another location.
According to Olaf Hollricher, Co-founder and Managing Director of Research and Development at WITec, “The alpha300 apyron, with its AutoBeam tool kit, is the culmination of our efforts to fully automate the Raman imaging process. It allows remote control, even from home, and can self-optimize for every measurement so researchers always get the best possible results.”
Available with a wide variety of excitation wavelengths from the ultraviolet through the visible into the near infrared, alpha300 apyron microscopes can be equipped with up to three ultra-high throughput WITec UHTS spectrometers and their accompanying range of detectors. Raman imaging and correlative measurements are defined, executed, saved and evaluated with WITec’s Suite FIVE software and intuitive EasyLink handheld controller.
WITec began automating Raman imaging measurements with the first generation apyron. Its advanced technology was introduced to the alpha300 line in stages of spiral development. The new consolidated alpha300 series is a continuous spectrum, from the entry-level access up to the flagship apyron. They all share the same rock-solid stability, fiber-based flexibility and integrated software environment.
As described by Joachim Koenen, Co-founder and Managing Director of WITec, “Many cutting-edge automated features of the apyron have made their way into the alpha300 line of microscopes over the past five years. As we developed new optical capabilities and hardware, they were built to a common standard. Now someone can configure an access, an apyron, or anything in between to meet the specific requirements of their research, even as it evolves.”
The user-friendliness of the alpha300 apyron makes advanced confocal Raman imaging accessible to researchers of all experience levels and fields of application. Scientists working in materials science, environmental science and microparticle analysis, life science, food science, geology, pharmaceutics and many other fields will benefit from automated alignment routines that provide consistently optimized performance. The alpha300 apyron accelerates both the experimental setup and subsequent measurement workflow.
You can find more information about the new alpha300 apyron here:
- WITec alpha300 apyron product picture (2.8 MB)
- Press Release alpha300 apyron English (DOCX) (268 KB)
- Press Release alpha300 apyron German (DOCX) (213 KB)
Every year, the WITec Paper Award competition recognizes three exceptional peer-reviewed publications that feature results acquired with a WITec microscope. A record number of 113 publications was submitted this year, in a clear demonstration of the power of Raman imaging for diverse fields of application such as cancer research, electrochemistry, semiconductor research, geology and microplastics research, to name only a few. WITec thanks all participants for their outstanding contributions from all over the world. The Paper Awards 2020 go to researchers from Japan, Poland and Austria and acknowledge impressive studies and methodologies from the fields of electrochemistry, biomedicine and polymer science, respectively.
- GOLD: Ankur Baliyan and Hideto Imai (2019) Machine Learning based Analytical Framework for Automatic Hyperspectral Raman Analysis of Lithium-ion Battery Electrodes. Scientific Reports 9: 18241. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-54770-2
- SILVER: Ewelina Wiercigroch, Elzbieta Stepula, Lukasz Mateuszuk, Yuying Zhang, Malgorzata Baranska, Stefan Chlopicki, Sebastian Schlücker and Kamilla Malek (2019) ImmunoSERS Microscopy for the Detection of Smooth Muscle Cells in Atherosclerotic Plaques. Biosensors and Bioelectronics 133: 79-85. doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2019.02.068
- BRONZE: Ruth Schmidt, Harald Fitzek, Manfred Nachtnebel, Claudia Mayrhofer, Hartmuth Schröttner and Armin Zankel (2019) The Combination of Electron Microscopy, Raman Microscopy and Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy for the Investigation of Polymeric Materials. Macromolecular Symposia 384: 1800237. doi.org/10.1002/masy.201800237
For a list of all previous Paper Award winners, please visit www.witec.de/paper-award.
The Paper Award GOLD: Automated quality control of lithium-ion batteries
Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) provide the power for most electric devices that we use every day, such as cell phones, tablets and laptops. Their development was honored with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry last year. Automated real-time quality control of LIB materials is necessary for industrial research and production. Ankur Baliyan and Hideto Imai from Nissan Arc. (Yokosuka, Japan) win the Gold Paper Award 2020 for their machine learning-based approach to analyzing Raman data of LIBs. Raman images of LIB cathodes can visualize the spatial distribution of the active cathode material (lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide, abbreviated as LiMO2) and the surrounding carbon matrix. In order to automate and accelerate the process of identifying the spectral signatures in Raman datasets, the authors developed a machine learning-based analytical framework. It starts by automatically pre-processing the Raman data to remove the baseline and cosmic rays. Next, algorithms determine the number of components, extract the corresponding spectral signatures, and identify them. The spectra are finally used to train a neural network, which can then automatically analyze Raman data from the same or a different LIB sample. The authors demonstrated that data analysis by the trained neural network yielded results consistent with results from an experienced user. However, the algorithm found two minor signatures in addition to the main components of carbon and LiMO2 that corresponded to a residual background signal and one of the main components exhibiting increased fluorescence signals. The presented approach requires very little user input and is thus suitable for real-time quality control using Raman data from lithium-ion batteries and other applications.
The Paper Award SILVER: Characterizing atherosclerotic plaques with iSERS microscopy
“Atherosclerosis is one of the major causes of death worldwide. Understanding the mechanism of its formation still remains a great challenge in medicine. Powerful techniques for monitoring the composition and stability of atherosclerotic plaques are thus needed,” says Ewelina Wiercigroch from Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland), winner of the Silver Paper Award 2020. Atherosclerotic plaques form at arterial walls and narrow the blood vessels. Monitoring the stability of the plaques is of clinical relevance because their rupture can result in a stroke or heart attack. As smooth muscle cells (SMCs) play a key role in stabilizing the plaques, their presence can serve as a marker for plaque stability. Ewelina Wiercigroch, Elzbieta Stepula, Lukasz Mateuszuk, Yuying Zhang, Malgorzata Baranska, Stefan Chlopicki, Sebastian Schlücker and Kamilla Malek from Jagiellonian University and the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany) demonstrated the suitability of immuno surface-enhanced Raman scattering (iSERS) microscopy for staining SMCs in atherosclerotic plaques. SERS labels were conjugated either with a primary antibody directed against α-actin of SMCs (direct iSERS) or with an appropriate secondary antibody (indirect iSERS). The iSERS images of mouse artery sections visualized regions containing SMCs and cluster analysis allowed the quantification of the percentage of SMCs located in the plaques. Results from iSERS staining agreed qualitatively and quantitatively with those from immunofluorescence (IF) staining. IF is the current gold standard in visualizing atherosclerotic constituents, but iSERS offers some advantages, such as higher photostability. The study thus establishes iSERS as a promising technique for visualizing and quantifying SMCs in atherosclerotic plaques.
The Paper Award BRONZE: Correlative Raman imaging of polymeric materials
Ruth Schmidt from Graz University of Technology (Graz, Austria) receives the Bronze Paper Award 2020, together with her colleagues Harald Fitzek, Manfred Nachtnebel, Claudia Mayrhofer, Hartmuth Schröttner and Armin Zankel. The group demonstrated the potential of correlative Raman Imaging and Scanning Electron (RISE) microscopy and Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDXS) for investigating polymers. Polymeric materials are popular in many applications due to their wide variety of useful properties, such as high elasticity or toughness. For characterizing their properties, the advantages of three imaging techniques were combined. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) acquired high-resolution structural information, while Raman imaging revealed the chemical composition and was complemented by elemental information from EDXS. The publication provides a detailed methodology chapter which describes different sample preparation approaches and imaging modes. For example, it explains strategies for SEM imaging without coating the sample, which would hinder subsequent Raman imaging. Three polymer specimens were investigated with RISE and EDXS, yielding complementary information from the same sample region. Coarse and fine structures of the samples were correlated with chemical properties and the layer structure of packaging materials was visualized. Particulate additives in a polymer matrix were identified and their size distribution was investigated. The authors stressed that combined SEM, Raman imaging and EDXS offers great possibilities for analyzing polymeric materials.
The competition continues: WITec Paper Award 2021
Scientists from all fields of application are invited to participate in the Paper Award 2021 contest (www.witec.de/paper-award). Articles published in 2020 in a peer-reviewed journal that feature data obtained with a WITec microscope can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org until January 31st, 2021. WITec is again looking forward to receiving many new and exceptional publications.
- Press Release Paper Award 2020 EN (PDF) (686 KB)
- Press Release Paper Award 2020 EN (DOCX) (306 KB)
- Picture Paper Award 2020 Gold (JPG) (2.4 MB)
- Picture Paper Award 2020 Silver Copyright: E. Wiercigroch (JPG) (2.1 MB)
- Picture Paper Award 2020 Bronze Copyright: FELMI-ZFE (JPG) (2.5 MB)
WITec has released a new Application Note that features measurements of semiconducting materials using 2D and 3D Raman imaging in combination with other techniques such as atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and second or third harmonic generation (SHG, THG) microscopy. See how correlative techniques can characterize crystallinity, topography, stress fields and other properties on materials such as silicon, gallium nitride and molybdenum disulfide.
To better serve our growing business in Japan, WITec K.K. has relocated the national office to Yokohama. Within a two-minute walk from the JR Kannai station and close to Yokohama Stadium, home of the Baystars baseball team, our new office is conveniently accessible from all over Japan.
In addition to delivering Raman imaging solutions with superior performance, customer satisfaction through excellent service and support is the key to WITec’s success. The new office provides a great environment for pursuing these objectives.
Our team is ready to work with existing and potential customers in the new equipment demonstration/sample measurement laboratory on their individual applications and requirements. A meeting and training space will host workshops and serve as a conference room for Japan’s Raman imaging community.
We look forward to welcoming you into our new home.
The WITec K.K. Team
1-1-5 Furo-cho, Naka-ku,
Yokohama City, Kanagawa Pref.
Physics World Magazine conducted a wide-ranging interview with WITec Co-founder and Director of Research and Development, Olaf Hollricher, in the days leading up to the MRS Fall Meeting and Exhibit at the end of last year.
The article, Confocal Raman microscopy: correlate and accumulate, highlights the versatility of the technique and the modular architecture of WITec’s microscopes. It describes how Raman imaging can be integrated with other methods within one instrument to provide a more comprehensive picture of a sample’s chemical composition and distribution. The potential of this approach, known as correlative microscopy, and the growing demand for it in the marketplace are examined. Dr. Hollricher also discusses the seemingly contradictory challenges that have been overcome in pursuit of both capability and accessibility. Two of WITec’s standout innovations, TrueSurface topographic Raman imaging, and the ParticleScout microparticle analysis tool are detailed as well.
Download the .pdf of the interview or read it on the Physics World website through the link below.