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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.

  • How SEM helps discover suitable corrosion inhibitors

    Many industries would benefit from the inhibition of corrosion in metals. In the materials science field, scientists are therefore exploring ways to prevent or reduce corrosion. Many studies looking for suitable corrosion inhibitors have been carried out.

    However, most of the inhibitors discovered and developed during those studies were synthetic chemicals, which are very expensive, and hazardous to the environment. Due to the characteristics of these chemicals, studies were carried out to investigate and analyse natural products that could be used as an anti-corrosion agent. SEM technology helped conduct these studies in an effective manner, something we will describe further in this article.

    SEM image of speed steel

    The use of castor oil extract to inhibit corrosion

    In 2017 Omotioma et al. (Int. J. Chem. Sci.: 14(1)) describe the use of castor oil (Ricinus communis) extract to inhibit corrosion of mild steel. Morphological observations of the corroded mild steel samples were carried out using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). As a result of this study, castor oil extract was found to inhibit both cathodic and anodic reactions and act as a mixed-type inhibitor.

    Another study from the same research group in 2015 (Der Pharma Chemica, 2015, 7 (11):373-383) investigated the use of leaves extract of bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) as corrosion inhibitor for aluminum. In this case, detailed changes in morphology were also revealed with the use of a SEM, which serves as a helpful tool to understand morphological changes in detail.





    SEM image of aluminum

    Corrosion behaviour on stainless steel

    A more detailed study on corrosion behaviour on stainless steel, with a focus on oil refinery distillation systems, was performed by Loto in 2016 (J Mater Res Technol. 2016). During this study, the surface morphology was analysed in more detail with SEM to detect defects or surface changes. The capability to understand surface morphology in combination with elemental detection via EDS allows results to be obtained in a fast and easy manner. The study was successful in proving that S32101 steel has significantly lower corrosion rates than 410 martensitic stainless steel used for applications in oil refinery distillation systems.

    If you would like to learn more about the potential of a SEM system paired with EDS technology, click here.


    About the author:Dr. Jasmin Zahn is an Application Engineer at Phenom-World, the world’s leading supplier of desktop scanning electron microscopes. She is highly engaged in finding out more about the possibilities for Phenom-World products in various applications. In addition, Jasmin is active in sharing best practices with the outside world to encourage them to look outside their standard scope of use and to improve in their work.

  • Lambda Photometrics will be exhibiting the very latest Phenom World products at MMC 2017

    On the 03rd of July, MMC 2017 presents...a huge exhibition. Running side-by-side with the conference is Europe's largest microscopy and imaging exhibition that will be home to over one hundred companies, providing outstanding opportunities to see and try cutting-edge equipment.

    Visiting the Microscience Microscopy Congress exhibition for free as a day visitor gives you access to a plethora of opportunities to enhance and advance your knowledge base and skillset. The exhibition is suitable for anyone who uses a microscope in their work or studies and provides valuable insights into products and services that can aid and assist you back in the workplace. Lambda Photometrics will be at Stand 621, exhibiting the very latest Phenom-World products at MMC 2017.

    Phenom-World desktop SEMs are the number one desktop solution, boasting a CeB6 cathode source which can deliver a finely focused electron beam at low acceleration voltages and beam currents. The source has an expected lifetime of 1500+ hours; lasting ~15 times longer than conventional Tungsten filaments. All with a resolution capable of ≤10 nm (Phenom ProX model) with appropriately prepared SEM samples. Alongside the Phenom ProX (EDX) we will be showing the Phenom XL (equipped with a larger stage), which has both the Backscatter Detector (BSE) and (optional) Secondary Electron Detector (SED) fitted.

    To speak with one of our Sales & Applications Engineers please call 01582 764334 or click here to email.


    MMC 2015 Exhibition Visitor testimonials:

    "Interesting talks, informative workshops, great opportunity to meet specialists who work both with equipment we already have and want in the future"

    "My primary motivation was to decide how to spend an equipment budget for my institution"
    "I wanted to investigate possible new instrument technologies, and discover some technologies I wasn't aware of before the congress"

    "It is a good place to catch-up the company reps and see what new products/equipment are around"

    "I always look forward to this great event!"

  • How engineers and researchers can boost polymers properties with SEM

    Polymers have many uses and applications: engineered combinations of monomers produce a nearly infinite number of molecules with different properties, which are determined by the chemical composition and structure of the molecule. The form of the molecule has a big influence on how the polymer will behave when exposed to different external forces. In this blog, you’ll find practical examples of how Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEMs) can provide unexpected results.

    Polymers: ideal crafting materials

    First, I’ll focus on what kind of information SEMs provide on thermoplastic polymers.

    These materials have a very linear chemical structure and weak interactions binding the molecules together. In these polymers, the bonds are easily broken when the polymer is heated up, which results in the material deforming. They have an good resistance to high temperatures, and are also characterised by a high chemical inertia and impressive resistance to abrasion.

    Thermosplastic polymers can undergo different kinds of industrial processes, such as printing or extrusion, making them the perfect crafting materials for items with the most complex of shapes.

    Fig. 1 SEM image of a meltblown fibre. The diameter of the fibre can easily be measured at this magnification.

    To give a few examples of their applications, thermoplastic polymers are widely used in the production of fibres, electrical and electronic parts, packaging films, but also for daily use items, such as oven-proof kitchenware. SEMs can be used to investigate their properties and quality, but also to improve the processes and investigate how different forces affect these materials.

    What does a SEM tell me about my polymer?

    After an abrasion test, a close look at the surface of the polymer can show the real consequences of the stress applied to the material. This allows for further development of the material or for quality controls at the end of the production chain.

    In this case, the interesting techniques are roughness analysis via stereoscopic reconstructions or shape from shading, which enable researchers to measure the depth of the scratches on the material.

    Fig 2. SEM image of a wax. SEM with EDS analysis was used to investigate the distribution and composition of particles dispersed in the polymeric matrix.
    Fig 3. A semiconductor imaged with a SEM can be easily inspected to find defects in the production process.

    Diameters of fibers and particles can be measured very accurately on a picture taken at high magnification. These can provide different kind of information, from fluidynamic properties, to the maximum particle size that can be caught in a filter, to how well a powder can be dispersed in a solution.

    Automated procedures are also available to instruct SEMs to autonomously collect pictures of the sample and measure important parameters like diameter, axis size, aspect ratios or areas. These results provide a huge amount of data easily and quickly, saving valuable time that researchers can invest in a more productive and efficient way.

    SEMs can also be used to investigate new and trending manufacturing processes like 3D printing, where a polymer is extruded and manipulated to create a real life version of a digital 3D drawing. The resolution and quality of the print, as well as the components of the printer itself, can be measured and investigated to dramatically boost the performance of the device.

    Fig 4. SEM image of a 3D-printed rabbit. SEM was used to investigate the object for defects.

    When analysing the distribution of particles in a film, knowing the composition of the different phases can help improve the dispersion process. This analysis can be easily performed using energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDX or EDS) - the most used microanalysis technique available on SEMs. In a couple of seconds, the chemical composition of the analysed sample is displayed on screen.

    Can I load my polymer in a SEM?

    Analysing a polymer with an electron microscope raises different problems. But as the polymer industry is one of the biggest players among SEM users, a number of simple solutions are available to obtain the desired results.

    For example, SEMs image electrons on the sample at a very high voltage. On the other hand, the current intensity is very small to avoid damage to the sample. On top of that, the observed sample has to be in a confined environment, in high vacuum. This can lead to several consequences for the material, depending on its chemical and physical resistance.

    The main problem is the accumulation of electrons on the surface of the sample, also known as the charging effect. This issue can be avoided by creating a conductive bridge linking the surface of the material to a part of the device which is at ground potential.

    An easier alternative is to change the vacuum level in the microscope according to the material specifications, which will lead to a massive discharging of the sample.

    The final option is a sputter coating device that can cover the material with a thin layer of gold or other conductive material. This will make it suitable for SEM analysis without meaningfully altering the structure of the sample.

    Polymers are generally very sensitive materials. The electron beam can damage them, especially when a very high voltage is applied. The electron emitted by the microscope can, in fact, interact with the delicate inter-molecular bonds and break them.

    Some SEMs provide a low emission current option that makes it possible to image the sample without damaging it.

    About the author:  Luigi Raspolini is an Application Engineer at Phenom-World, the world’s leading supplier of desktop scanning electron microscopes. Luigi is constantly looking for new approaches to materials characterisation, surface roughness measurements and composition analysis. He is passionate about improving user experiences and demonstrating the best way to image every kind of sample.

  • Sensors Unlimited Launches New, Low Cost 320CSX Micro SWIR Camera

    Sensors Unlimited Inc., a division of UTC Aerospace Systems, has launched the 320CSX, the latest in its line of MicroSWIR™ high performance short wave infrared (SWIR) video cameras. The low-noise, rugged SWIR camera provides customers with an unprecedented opportunity to get the size, weight, power (SWaP) and capability of a Sensors Unlimited MicroSWIR™ camera at a very affordable price, and without ITAR restrictions.

    This Indium Gallium Arsenide (InGaAs) SWIR camera’s performance, reliability and low SWaP make it ideal for use in a variety of industrial systems for a range of applications that include industrial process monitoring, enhanced vision and persistent surveillance. “Many of our industrial customers have been asking for a more affordable, small SWIR imager and our product design team did a great job of answering the call, said Bob Jones, director of sales for Sensors Unlimited. “We’re very proud of this new addition to the Sensors Unlimited MicroSWIR™ family, and look forward to sharing the experience with our customers.”

    On the front end, the 320CSX offers an industry standard C-mount lens interface, which allows customers to select a myriad of commercial-off-the-shelf lens options. On the backend, the camera offers a modular output, which will initially provide RS170 analogue video or CameraLink® digital video, and RS232 command and control, but may be expanded to offer other industry standard interfaces.

    At its core, the 320CSX camera provides ¼ VGA resolution (320x256 pixels, 12.5µm pixel pitch), weighs less than 55 grams, measures 1.25 inches on each side, uses less than 2W of power at 20°C, operates from -5 to 60°C case temperatures, and provides a range of features to optimize imagery in a wide variety of lighting conditions. Like all members of the MicroSWIR™ product family, the 320CSX was built for rugged operation and includes the assurance of MIL-STD-810G environmental testing.

    UTC Aerospace Systems is a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX). UTC Aerospace Systems designs, manufactures and services integrated systems and components for the aerospace and defence industries. UTC Aerospace Systems supports a global customer base with significant worldwide manufacturing and customer service facilities.

    To speak with a Sales & Applications Engineer please call 01582 764334 or click here to email.

  • Crick Electron Microscopy Opening Symposium

    Crick Electron Microscopy Opening Symposium 

    The Francis Crick Institute in London will host a symposium to celebrate the opening of the new Electron Microscopy Science Technology Platforms, with national and international invited speakers presenting the cutting edge in application of imaging technology to answer critical research questions, from molecules to whole organisms.

    Wednesday 12th - Friday 14th July 2017.

    The Francis Crick Institute, 1 Midland Road, London NW1 1AT

    Click here for more information

  • Benchtop SEM with Integrated EDS Revolutionizing the World of Structural Analysis

    Insights from industry Interview conducted by Jake Wilkinson on the 2nd March 2016 with Jos Maas, Head of Product Marketing, PhenomWorld, The Netherlands

    Jos Maas, the head of product marketing at PhenomWorld, has close to 20 years of experience in the science industry. Jos spoke to AZoM about the Phenom ProX, a benchtop analysis tool that integrates SEM with EDS allowing lab researchers to carry out comprehensive materials analysis without having to use bulky and awkward equipment.

    Click here to download article

  • Sensors Unlimited Introduces Fastest SWIR 2048-Pixel Line Scan Camera to Support Medical Diagnosis

    Sensors Unlimited Inc., a division of UTC Aerospace Systems, has introduced its fastest 2048 pixel shortwave infrared (SWIR) InGaAs line scan camera to aid in the detection and diagnosis of multiple eye conditions, including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and corneal disease. The GL2048R camera is specially designed for applications in spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), making it ideal for imaging the retina and choroid, the blood vessel below the retina.


    The speed of this new SWIR camera allows the entire front of the eye – from the top of the cornea through to the bottom of the lens – to literally be imaged in the blink of an eye. Developed to feature the smallest pixel pitch available for the SWIR wavelength range, the GL2048R easily fits with other optical equipment used in these applications.

    The new, higher speed GL2048R camera minimises motion blur and lessens patients’ discomfort, while giving physicians the largest field of view possible and the ability to measure blood flow inside the larger vessels of the eye. The camera helps eye surgeons measure corneal thickness, scar tissue and lens dimensions before operating.

    UTC Aerospace Systems is a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX). UTC Aerospace Systems designs, manufactures and services integrated systems and components for the aerospace and defence industries. UTC Aerospace Systems supports a global customer base with significant worldwide manufacturing and customer service facilities.

    To speak with a Sales & Applications Engineer please call 01582 764334 or click here to email.

  • How to use GPIO cameras with a PLC

    General purpose I/Os (GPIOs) enable the use of a pin as an input as well as an output.

    When using cameras with GPIOs with a PLC, you will meet the challenge that the output signal of the GPIO is not high enough to give a switching signal to the PLC.

    One solution to overcome this issue is to use a switching amplifier).

    Click here for further information

  • Powder Characterisation in Additive Manufacturing Seminar

    Powder Characterisation in Additive Manufacturing Seminar

    The main purpose of this event is to share information on a range of technologies that can investigate and help solve problems of powder behaviour in additive manufacturing.

    Thursday 25th May 2017.

    Crowne Plaza Hotel, Blanchardstown, Dublin

    Click here for more information

  • Installation and Maintenance of Solar Photovoltaic Systems - Application Note

    This application note introduces the test solutions comprising Keysight ruggedised handheld and benchtop measuring instrument for the installation and maintenance of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

      Click here for more information

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