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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.
Considerable time has passed since the finalisation of USB 3.1 specification in August 2013 where an announcement was made that it would double USB 3.0 theoretical transfer speeds to 10 Gbps and support scalable power delivery of up to 100 Watt using the USB Power Delivery spec. Here is the clarification of current situation:
Quick points about USB 3.1
Note: Not all USB Type-C cables will have equal parameters
The full claim in distributed was that:
"SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps uses a more efficient data encoding and will deliver more than twice the effective data through-put performance of existing SuperSpeed USB over enhanced, fully backward compatible USB connectors and cables. Compatibility is assured with existing USB 3.0 software stacks and device class protocols as well as with existing 5Gbps hubs and devices and USB 2.0 products."
As you can see in the logo, the new upgrade is referred to as "SuperSpeed+" and while a lot of work has already been done, there is still some time before this will transfer into products.
USB Promoter Group already organized and will be holding continuous developer conferences to further promote the standard.
XIMEA team was already present on several conferences and plans to keep this practice to follow the newest progress and ensure that our partners and customers receive the most up to date information and exceptional products based on the most modern technology that is available at the moment.
Reversible USB Type-C connector
In addition to previous USB Promoter Group announcements, there is a separate category which notified that design of the USB Type-C plug is finalised. This new type of USB plug deserves special attention since it is supposed to completely replace every USB connector type of any size that is currently available. Many people compare it to Apple's Lightning cables because the new connector is also reversible and can be used inserted in any orientation.
After USB Type-C finalisation, which IT world quickly adopted, it is possible to see already available devices, cables, adapters and other accessories that support the new reversible connector. Few examples are: latest Apple MacBook has one, latest Chromebook Pixel with two USB Type-C ports, HP Pavilion x2, Nokia’s N1 tablet etc.
Note: USB Type-C cables and ports may be used for USB 3.1, BUT, depending on the host controller and devices, the also may only be compatible with USB 2.0 or USB 3.0
Summarising the USB-IF’s press release, the new connector is "similar in size" to current micro USB 2.0 Type-B connectors (the ones you use for most non-Apple phones and tablets). It is designed to be "robust enough for laptops and tablets" and "slim enough for mobile phones." The openings for the connector measure 8.4mm by 2.6mm.
USB Type-C connector has 18 pins and is basically a unification of two USB 3.1 SuperSpeed connectors (these have four pins and additional five to enable 10Gbps). Simply put - if you plug the connector one way one set of pins is used and if you reverse it the other set is used.
An important side-note is that cables and adapters connecting older Type-A and Type-B ports to Type-C devices will be readily available. Also, the USB Type-C connector is designed taking into consideration the possibility to scale when USB spec gets faster - increasing the bandwidth and length beyond USB 3.1 For further comfort, there will also be new USB cables that have a USB Type-C connector at both ends.
A huge benefit, which is often neglected, is that USB Type-C connector allows delivery of up to 100 watts through the USB cable - that is enough to charge 4K monitor, most peripherals and in fact laptop itself. The USB Promoter Group claims the USB Type-C connector is rated as Micro-USB to 10,000 cycles. Another claim is that design is supposed to be future-proof so will be part and parcel of any USB versions in the years ahead.
Note: USB Type-C can support USB Power Delivery if the device’s host controller and the cable itself support the standard, but the fact that you have USB Type-C does not mean you automatically have USB Power Delivery.
The new USB Power Delivery specification had a parallel development to USB 3.1 which is also why, like the Type-C connector, USB Power Delivery is separate from the USB 3.1 specification.
Together with the USB Power Delivery standard there will arrive new PD-aware cables.
These will have an interesting feature called “handshake” - which will happen between a host and device. Device itself can request up to 20V at 5A from the host, but before the host can deliver more than 5v at 900mA, it will check if the cable is able to safely deliver the requested power.
Note: Ports that will support respective USB Power Delivery profiles with voltages greater than 5V, or currents greater than 1.5A, would be marked with an according logo.
USB Type-C supports USB 2.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1 (SuperSpeed USB 5 Gb/s), and USB 3.1 Gen 2 (SuperSpeed USB 10 Gb/s) data speeds.
Note: USB 2.0 and USB 3.1 are defined under separate specifications.
"Thunderbolt and the Thunderbolt logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries".
For further information please contact one of our Machine Vision sales/applications engineers on 01582 764334 or click here to email.
XIMEA, the innovator of small size and high speed cameras, has released more models with Sony CMOS Pregius™sensors and USB3 Vision.
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Most of us may not be aware, but we are constantly surrounded by fibres. From tissue engineering to diapers, high technology filters are part of our daily lives. Many common, inexpensive polymers can be processed on a large scale into flexible materials. But not every produced fibrous material is ready for usage, such as in electronic devices, and further alterations of the material are needed. This blog will give you an insight into how scanning electron microscopy (SEM) can be used in the context of various nano-engineered fibres.
Polymer nanocomposites appear to be very promising, cost-effective candidates for applications in a variety of fields, such as mechanical engineering, small-scale electronics, chemical sensing, tissue engineering, and biosensing. Due to remarkable physical properties, such as a large aspect ratio, mechanical strength, and high polarizability, carbon nanotubes represent one common type used to tune the electrical, mechanical, thermal and optical properties of the polymer composite.
Example: controlling the concentration and orientation of carbon nanotubes in poly(lactic acid) (PLA) fibres
By controlling the concentration and orientation of carbon nanotubes in poly(lactic acid) (PLA) fibres, researchers have created nanocomposites with improved properties for nanoelectronics, biosensing and tissue engineering applications. After altering PLA fibres and electrospinning, Iqbal et al (Nanotechnology, 2015) were able to show — due to a more detailed analysis regarding their structure — that altered surface properties enhanced the properties of fibres.
Example: the use of cellulose nanofibres in chromatography
A further example of advanced fibre technology is the use of cellulose nanofibres in chromatography. Especially in the area of pharmaceutical development, more and more effort is going into the advancement of purification techniques. Cellulose is a commonly used material in membrane chromatography and filtration as it is chemically resistant, cheap and has good non-specific binding properties. However, cellulose raises many challenges in electrospinning because it is difficult to dissolve and the solvent systems required can lead to non-uniform nanofibre deposition. Annealing cellulose acetate nanofibres with heat is a common step to improve mechanical strength by creating “spot welds” at fibre strand overlap points.
Scanning electron microscopy images offer an analysis of different morphologies for a cast porous membrane, packed-bed resin and an annealed electrospun regenerated cellulose. In the study of Dods et al. (Journal of Chromatography A, 2015) FiberMetric (a software that can analyse in a semi-automated mode further fibre parameters) was used to determine fiber diameters and therefore gain knowledge on how an alteration of cellulose shows an impact on fibres.
For more information in an efficient and easy tool to measure your fibres, 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.
Certain samples are tricky to image. Sometimes, even the best sample preparation will be of no help in finding the results you need. Surface roughness and features on top of the sample might hide the specific area of interest, which could contain crucial information about surface defects or characteristics of the imaged material. In cases like this, you need a new point of view.
For instance, when performing a failure analysis on a computer chip, a wire or other object might cover the bad connection that is causing the item to malfunction. Or maybe the count of specially designed alloy particles, which will boost the performances of the latest engine components or micro-medical tools, could be inaccurate due to surface roughness hiding some of them.
Pre-tilted clamping devices allow you to position the sample at a fixed angle (generally 30° or 45°). But these instruments still only allow sample imaging from one point of view. Slightly more advanced designs feature a system of screws that enable users to set the preferred angle for imaging. Therefore, it is possible to image the sample, unload it from the SEM, tilt and rotate the pin stub in the clamper and load it again.
Although this solution might seem simple and immediate, there are several problems involved:
To help users retrieve more accurate results — and to save precious time — SEM suppliers have designed highly sophisticated motorised stages that allow sample “tilting and rotation”. These operations are performed while the sample is inside the SEM and users can monitor the movements on the screen.
During the development of a tilt and rotation sample holder for a desktop scanning electron microscope (SEM), a central aspect needs to be considered: the small amount of space available within the device.
Commonly used devices for floor models feature an IR camera to observe the sample while being tilted. It is then up to the user to finely and accurately tune the movement of the stage to avoid hitting — and potentially damaging — internal components of the microscope.
Contact sensors are also an available solution, but they will not prevent the sample from hitting something. A smarter and more user-friendly approach is gaining popularity. It is based on recreating a 3D model of the sample and the sample holder to display in real time what is happening inside the device. The system integrates software that will prevent any stage movement that compromises the safety of internal components, so that no damage can be done to the instrument.
When dealing with features in the nanoscale, a very small movement of the sample translates into a huge difference in terms of the imaged spot. Consequently, extreme accuracy is required when moving the sample. As basic tilting might still not be enough to keep the area of interest within the field of view, eucentric tilting is required.
Click here to find out more about the Phenom-World Eucentric Sample Holder.
Fibres are all around us in many different forms. In most cases we do not notice them because they are used in a product. In case an object is much longer as it is wide we consider it as a fibre. Fibres have specific properties for the product in which they are used. This blog will describe the different ways how these fibres can be classified.
If you search online the word fibre you will see that fibres are classified as natural fibres and engineered fibres. We will focus on the engineered fabrics and especially the non-wovens.
Diapers, napkins, air filters, hydraulic filters, construction products etc. are some examples of products containing non-wovens. The fibers in these products are called nanofibers as they can have a diameter < 1µm. Why are they so small? Because you can create higher efficiency products for better air filtration, water absorption, lifetime improvement, etc.
Key in this process is to understand the properties of non-wovens to be able to optimise the output. Changing the structure of non-wovens requires equipment to examine or test the material’s properties. This can be:
Microscopy techniques for the evaluation of fibres
Microscopy techniques are imperative to evaluating the performance of a filter, for instance. Optical inspection has been the industry standard for the last decades. However, it has become insufficient for many new applications because fibre dimensions are below the resolution limit of an optical microscope.
Atomic force microscopy is a technique that can be used in the micron range, but it is a very slow process and can cause physical probe issues.
With a higher depth of field and greater image contrast, use of a scanning electron microscope (SEM) is becoming the new standard for characterising filtration materials. An SEM image affords a quick and high-resolution visualisation of filter media. Elemental analysis, via energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) with SEM, allows for the identification of elements in the fibres or particulates.
Click here to find out more about the Phenom-World ProX Desktop SEM With EDX/EDS.
About the author - Karl Kersten is head of the Application team at Phenom-World, world’s leading supplier of desktop scanning electron microscopes. He is passionate about the Phenom product and likes converting customer requirements into product or feature specifications so customers can achieve their goals.
Magnification is a very simple concept, but it sometimes can create confusion because of its own definition. The aim of this blog is to clarify this topic and focus on other parameters which can describe better how big an object is represented. The first magnifying glasses date back to the Greeks, with Aristophanes describing the first attempt to look at small details as a leisure activity for kids. This was when the word magnification entered our language for the very first time.
Time has passed, and the interest of science for the micro and nano world has exponentially increased, creating the need for a quantification of magnification. The modern definition of magnification is the ratio between two measurements, which implies that two objects are needed for a correct evaluation of the value.
The first object is obviously the sample. The second is a picture of it. But the thing is, although the sample will not change its size, the picture can be printed in an infinite number of different sizes. So allow me to do some maths:
This means that if I print a picture of an apple that fits on a standard printer sheet and I print it again to fit on a poster that will be used to cover a building, the magnification value will change dramatically.
A more scientific example can be applied to microscopy: when storing a digital image of the sample, resizing the image causes the magnification number to become ostensibly wrong.
Magnification is thus a relative number and it is of no practical use in the scientific field.
What scientists use is a couple of parameters that describe the actual imaged area (field of view – the area that the microscope points at) and how sharp this image is (resolution). The formula of magnification also changes accordingly:
As you can see, the formula still remains a vague description and does not consider the resolution. This means that scaling the same image to a bigger screen will cause the magnification number to change.
The field of view defines the size of the feature to be imaged. This value typically ranges between some millimetres (a bug) to few microns (the hair of a bug) and a couple of nanometres (the molecular macrostructure of the exoskeleton). With modern instruments, objects in the range of few hundred picometers can be imaged – and that is the average size of an atom.
But how do I know what the required field of view is to image my samples?
Once again, this is quite a tricky question, but it can easily be answered with an example. In a picture with your best friends, normally a face covers 5-10% of the surface of the space. This is already enough for you to recognise the persons in the image. But if you have a close up of a face, small details such as hairs, spots on the skin and the colour of the eyes can be observed.
This means that if you, for example, have particles with an average size of 1 micron and you want to count them, it is okay to have 20 particles per image, rather than wasting time by imaging one particle at a time. Also taking into account empty space between particles, a field of view of 25-30 microns is enough for such sample.
Joon Seong, Charles P. Parkinson, Maria Davies, Nicholas C. A. Claydon & Nicola X West
"Prior to SEM analysis, replica impressions were disinfected in a solution containing 1000 ppm available chlorine for 10 min, then removed and rinsed well under running water. The replica impression of the sensitive area was analysed directly via SEM without the need to cast a further positive replica at ×2000 magnification using a Phenom benchtop scanning electron microscope (Model Number: 800 03103-02, Phenom-World, The Netherlands) to investigate the degree of dentine tubule occlusion. When capturing the baseline image, a large area of the tooth surface close to the gingival margin was scanned so that the best area possible, where dentine damage was minimal and dentine tubules were clearly patent, could be captured. As well as capturing an SEM image, a light microscope image of the area where open dentine tubules were visible at baseline was taken. Using this image, it was possible to return to the same area of the tooth for the after treatment time points, and using the gingival margin as a reference to ensure that approximately the same location of the replica impression of the tooth was examined on each occasion. Tubule occlusion was scored according to 5-point categorical scale (Table 1, Fig. 1). The SEM imaging and classification was carried out by a single appropriately trained staff member (examiner) who was blind to the treatment that had been applied to the tooth from which the replica impression had been obtained. Before classification of study images, a calibration exercise was performed for the scoring (classification) of replica dentine tubule occlusion SEM images. The examiner graded a standard set of 25 replica dentine tubule occlusion SEM images using the classification grades (Table 1), and the results were compared to the calibrated standard scores for these images . A weighted Kappa coefficient (κ) using the Fleiss-Cohen method of weighting  where κ = 1.0 indicates perfect agreement, and κ < 0, no more agreement than would be expected by chance was calculated to assess examiner reliability and reliability was deemed excellent (κ > 0.75). Once the examiner had demonstrated acceptable agreement with the calibrated standard, they were approved to classify the study images. At screening and baseline, 37 out of 38 occlusion scores of replica impressions were 5 (unoccluded), demonstrating that oral debris such as salivary deposits which were undoubtedly present did not cause sufficient tubule occlusion to be visible on replica impressions and cause reductions in occlusion score."
Click here to download the full article.
© The Author(s) 2017. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com
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