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Lambda News

Lambda is a leading supplier of characterisation, measurement and analysis equipment, applied to signals from DC to Light. Our company provides hardware, software and integrated solutions throughout the UK & Ireland.

  • Customer Testimonial: Researching the chemical nature of production faults

    Mosa creators of award-winning, leading edge, high tech tile for walls, floors and terraces, began barely a year ago to work with SEM, an advanced electron microscopy technology. In that short space of time, however, the device that is the size of an old PC has proved its effectiveness, helping Mosa achieve a significant step in its efforts to research the chemical nature of production faults.

    Berry Veltman, who works in process technology in the floor tile factory, is an enthusiastic speaker. Not only does he explain with verve and SEM-techniek | SEM technology 37 conviction what SEM does, he also explains how the device puts an end to speculations about disruptions to production and how it can show us the ‘way to truth,’ as Barry puts it. The editorial office spoke with the 26-year-old chemist, and tried to get to the bottom of how the SEM technology could deliver added value for Mosa.

    How does SEM technology work?
    ‘The sample we want to investigate is placed into a vacuum chamber, in which it is shot with a focused beam of electrons. By using detectors, it is possible to form an image with the ‘reflected’ or ‘backscattered’ electrons. The advantage of this image lies in its high magnification factor: being able to magnify an image by up to 100,000 times enables us to see even the primary clay plates, which are just a couple of tens of nanometres thick.

    It even allows us to see the smallest pores that are present on the tile surface which we would be unable to see with an optical microscope. We can also use this technology to conduct topographical analyses of features such as the roughness of a surface. However, the device’s major advantage is that it enables us to conduct localized chemical analyses on, for instance, an impurity which causes our end products to be rejected. This means that we can carry out more targeted improvements in the production process, which in turn allows us to reduce the number of defective tiles.’

    What do you mean by ‘defective’ tiles?
    ‘One of the most important things for us as a tile producer is that we maintain constant quality in our tiles. However, removing defective tiles from the process at the end of the production process is a costly procedure. In 2015, an average of 91.9% tiles produced in VTF were approved the first time round. In the past, investigating the origin of these faults was often problematic: whilst there would be lots of discussion, hard facts and evidence were often lacking.’

    Could you give us a concrete example?
    ‘One of the frequently occurring problems is minuscule irregularities in the top layer of our tiles. You could imagine these as minuscule nodules. These are a recurrent problem, and we assumed that they were linked to inhomogeneous features. SEM enables us to carry out a chemical analysis of these nodular defects. This technology has provided us with the answer to questions such as: what is the chemical nature of these nodules or cavities?

    In which component of the production process can the cause be identified? What is the mass’s composition at that point and to what extent does this deviate from the rest of the top layer? In the past, we were often unable to answer similar essential questions. Thanks to SEM technology, we have been able to conduct analyses in greater detail and identify increased concentrations of carbon or iron in many cases with similar nodular defects. Thanks to these analyses, 2016 saw the beginning of a project which uses magnets to effectively remove iron from these masses.’

    But carrying out analyses is surely nothing new?
    ‘That’s true, but SEM enables us to conduct analyses up to a nanoscale. What’s more, the device also provides us with information about the material composition of the nodules. This information is used to investigate whether the composition contains unusual substances, whether there’s an excess of a certain substance, or whether the concentration of a substance deviates from the norm. Data such as this is essential in order to understand and tackle the problem.’

    Together with his colleague Stan Szreder, Berry Veltman is applying the SEM technology in various research projects. The duo say that SEM technology can be used in many areas and is in no way restricted to analyses on samples. Both chemists are convinced that the device can make a substantial contribution to the optimisation of the production process.

    Pollution in carbonic irregularity in floor tile / Analysis spectrum with peaks which are characteristic of the measured elements


    Reference: This interview was published in the Mosa Magazine, Nr. 1, December 2015, pages 36-37.

  • Automating a Laser Induced Damage Threshold test (LIDT)

    Intense laser light can damage optical components like mirrors, optical coatings, or fibres. For the selection of the right optical components, it is important to find out at what dose of energy causes damage to a component, or permanently changes its optical characteristics.

    BSD SEM image of laser-induced damage on an optical coating

    To determine the exact effect of specific doses of energy, a Laser Induced Damage Threshold test is performed. The optical component is exposed to different intensities and wavelengths of laser light in a grid pattern. After the exposure to laser light, the component is inspected for damage using different types of optical microscopes and SEM. The grid can contain hundreds of different points — and each point has to be inspected. Performing this test manually would demand a lot of your time.

    With the Phenom Programmable Interface, a script is created to acquire images automatically for each point. The script works by uploading a list of coordinates that is created by the laser. You then calibrate the stage on two points, after which the script proceeds to image each point at a selected magnification.

    User interface of the LIDT scan script: the small red and green dots represent points where the optical coating was exposed to laser light.

    All the images are stored in the selected folder for you to inspect. If a specific point requires closer inspection, that point can easily be found by clicking on it in the user interface. Automating this process saves you time; time that you would normally invest in the acquisition of your images. Now, you can just click on the images and check if there is any damage.

    If you would like to know how the Phenom XL and Programming Interface will help you save significant amounts of time, Learn how you can become a more efficient operator by automating your SEM work.

    Click here to download  our free Programming Interface specification sheet.


    About the author: Ruud Bernsen is Technical Sales Engineer at Phenom-World, the world’s leading supplier of desktop scanning electron microscopes. He provides training and product support to his customers in The Netherlands. In addition Ruud arranges product demonstrations for companies and universities to show the possibilities of the Phenom product range.

  • Lamdamap 12th International Conference & Exhibition

    The 12th International Conference and Exhibition on Laser Metrology, Coordinate Measuring Machine and Machine Tool Performance, (LAMDAMAP 2017)

    Wednesday-Thursday, 15-16th March 2017.

    Renishaw Innovation Centre, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire

    Click here for more information

  • Functional conductive nanomaterials via polymerisation in nano-channels: PEDOT in a MOF

    BSE-SEM images and EDS mapping were acquired on a Phenom ProX Desktop microscope with an accelerating voltage of 5–15 kV for BSE-SEM images and 15 kV for EDS mapping.

    Tiesheng Wang, Meisam Farajollahi, Sebastian Henke, Tongtong Zhu, Sneha R. Bajpe,a Shijing Sun,a Jonathan S. Barnard, June Sang Lee, John D. W. Madden, Anthony K. Cheethama and Stoyan K. Smoukov

    Reactions inside the pores of metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) offer potential for controlling polymer structures with regularity to sub-nanometre scales. We report a wet-chemistry route to poly-3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene (PEDOT)–MOF composites. After a twostep removal of the MOF template we obtain unique and stable macroscale structures of this conductive polymer with some nanoscale regularity.

    Click here to read full article.



    Article courtesy of The Royal Society of Chemistry, Materials Horizons publication

  • Compliant list for Baumer industrial cameras - USB 3.0

    The equipment listed below has been tested successfully with the following Baumer camera models featuring the USB 3.0 interface.


    • VCXU cameras
    • VEXU cameras
    • MXU cameras
    • VLU cameras
    • PXU cameras


    Click here for more information

  • Compliant list for Baumer industrial cameras - Gigabit Ethernet (GigE)

    The equipment listed below has been tested successfully with the following Baumer camera models featuring GigE interface.


    • VisiLine® cameras
    • VisiLine® IP cameras
    • HXG cameras
    • SXG cameras
    • TXG cameras
    • LXG cameras
    • EXG cameras
    • VCXG cameras
    • MXG cameras
    • VEXG cameras


    Click here for more information

  • Chromatic dispersion measurement with Optical Complex Spectrum Analyser


    Based on complex spectral analysis of the optical field, the Apex Technologies Optical Complex Spectrum Analyser AP2441B/AP2443B is able to measure the chromatic dispersion and the group delay of a transmission line. This paper is dedicated to explain clearly the measurement method of two examples of a 13.2 km standard Single Mode Fibre (SMF) length using a 10 Gb/s modulated signal produced by a Mach Zehnder modulator and a 12.4 km SMF using an optical frequency comb generator. Optional software (OCSA04-Group delay and chromatic dispersion analysis) can be integrated in the equipment in order to display the group delay and the chromatic dispersion as function of the wavelength/frequency. For accuracy issues, the paper presents a solution by using averaging functions.

    Click here for more information

  • Differential Quadrature Phase Shift Keying (DQPSK) modulation characteristics using Optical Complex Spectrum Analyser


    This paper depicts the strong contribution of the Apex Technolgoies Optical Complex Spectrum Analyser AP2441B/AP2443B in characterising and evaluating 43 Gb/s DQPSK (Differential Quadrature Shift Keying) modulators thanks to its ability to display the phase eye pattern and the constellation. Low-drive-voltage (3.5 V) and uniform modulation characteristics of MZIs (Mach Zehnder Modulators) were achieved with Z-cut dual-drive nested-MZIs structure and the wide-gap design between signal and ground electrodes, resulting in precise constellation mappings in 43 Gb/s DQPSK modulation.

    Click here for more information

  • Effects of chirp induction mechanism on spectral broadening in LiNbO3 modulators using Optical Complex Spectrum Analyser


    The spectrum of a chirped optical NRZ data stream obtained by an external Mach-Zehnder Modulator (MZM) is analysed using the Apex Technologies Optical Complex Spectrum Analyzer AP2441B/AP2443B. We  demonstrate that it is possible to induce chirp without broadening the optical spectrum by employing a MZM with optical power unbalancing in the two waveguides. For standard chirped MZM (different electrical field on the two arms), such as z-cut LiNbO3 modulators, the broadening as a function of chirp.

  • Optical intensity and chirp measurement of a Mach-Zehnder Electro-optic travelling wave modulators with Optical Complex Spectrum Analyser


    The discussion exposed in this paper is based on a synthesis of several elements collected in some publications dealing with fundamental characteristics of Mach-Zehnder electro-optic travelling wave intensity modulators. We draw an analysis of the optical response of these modulators to a time varying drive voltage, modelised after a description of their technological conception. Then we review the important parameters to study for the use of these modulators in optical transmissions (optical response bandwidth, chirp parameter). We present the properties of these parameters with respect to the previous analysis, and we show that they can be characterized independently using the Apex Technologies Optical Complex Spectrum Analyzer AP2441B/AP2443B, which is of great importance to analyse the performances of such modulators in long haul transmissions.

    Click here for more information

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