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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.

  • What is USB 3.1?

    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

    • USB 3.1, at the moment, has two versions:
      Gen 1 - “SuperSpeed USB” - basically the same as USB 3.0 with 5 GBit/s bandwidth
      Gen 2 - “SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps” - future upgrade that needs chips that are yet unavailable
    • All current USB 3.1 devices should be backward compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0
    • USB 3.1 does not include the Type-C connector - it is optional
    • USB 3.1 does not include USB Power Delivery - it is optional
    • USB 3.1 refers to the transfer rates of USB products
    • USB3 Vision standard is not affected by USB 3.1 specification update.
    • Lambda Photometrics are shipping XIMEA USB 3.1 Gen 1 machine vision cameras

    Latest News

    • USB 3.1 Gen 2 will add an optional 10 Gbit/s transfer rate.
    • Gen 2 throughput is approximately 2.5 times higher than USB 3.0 due to more effective new data encoding scheme - actual rate of 1 Gigabyte per second.
    • For now, USB 3.1 Gen 2 cables have the maximum length of 1 meter.
    • USB-IF certified USB 3.1 Gen 2 devices will use a new SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps logo which you can see below.
    • USB 3.1 1.0 specification was published July 2013.
    • Introduction of new connectors with enhanced EMI contact zones that are designed to minimise RF leakage. Radiated interference from the USB interface and susceptibility to other RF sources are improved. Backward compatible with previous ones.
    • Revision 3.x
    • USB 3.1 capable products will begin to ship in the first half of 2015, partly due to the backing of companies as Microsoft, Intel and Apple. Officials in the European Union and China have approved the verification procedures for USB 3.1 which should help the technology come to market sooner than expected.
    • At Computex 2015 Intel showcased that company has abandoned its proprietary connector replacing it with the super-fast Thunderbolt standard and adopted USB Type-C connectors to supercharge the reversible cable.
    • Intel’s Thunderbolt USB Type-C cable delivers 40Gbps  Comparison:
    Note: Not all USB Type-C cables will have equal parameters

    Note: Not all USB Type-C cables will have equal parameters

    • Thunderbolt 3 will be backward compatible with USB 3.1 Type-C ports by integrating USB 3.1 controller into the cable making it able to be used on any USB Type-C port.
    • There will several Thunderbolt 3 cable options:
      Passive 20Gbps copper cable based on the existing USB Type-C cable with up to 2 meter length,
      Active 40Gbps copper cable with up to 2 meters,
      Optical Fibre cable 40Gbps for lengths up to 60 meters (planned for 2016).
    • USB Type-C ports are able to support many different protocols using system aptly called “alternate modes”. This interesting feature means: you can have adapters that can output HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort, or other connections from single USB port (last Apple MacBook provides this with USB Type-C Digital Multiport Adaptor), which represents fewer types of ports on the host device in the future - further miniaturization.

    SuperSpeed+

    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.

    Reference footprint for a USB type-C mid-mount dual-row SMT receptacle (informative)

    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.

    USB type-C to USB 2.0 standard-A cable assembly

    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.

    Power

    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.

    Bandwidth

    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 releases new camera models with Sony CMOS sensors and USB3

    XIMEA, the innovator of small size and high speed cameras, has released more models with Sony CMOS Pregius™sensors and USB3 Vision.

    It started with models based on IMX174, IMX252 and IMX250, and now XIMEA has made accessible to the general public the first units with Sony CMOS IMX255 sensor providing 8.9 Mpix at 43 Fps - MC089MG-SY / MC089CG-SY, as well as cameras using the Sony IMX253 sensor with 12.4 Mpix at 31 Fps - MC124MG-SY / MC124CG-SY. These newcomers are part of the xiC line of cameras enhanced with the ever popular USB3 interface.

    All Sony’s models from the IMX family based on the Pregius™ technology have Global shutter and are able to supply 8, 10 or 12 bit high quality pictures with the Dynamic range higher than 70 dB, extraordinarily low noise, exceptional light sensitivity and remarkable colour reproduction, at a speed much higher than Sony CCD equivalents.

    To leverage the impressive image quality of the newest Sony sensors and their high speed using USB3, XIMEA has cast these ingredients into an extra small form factor housing, measuring only 26x26x33 mm and weighing just 38 grams. Power requirements are as low as 3 Watt which allows the cameras to be bus powered directly through the USB3 cable.

    The interface is specified as “USB 3.1 Gen 1” and there is no practical difference from the well-known USB 3.0, still ensuring a high bandwidth of 5 Gbit/s. XIMEA offers various types of connectors - the default being standard USB 3.0 Micro-B, but it is also possible to supply camera variations with the new USB Type-C or Flex line connector ideal for embedded vision systems.

    Free of charge, the XIMEA API/SDK supports Windows, Linux, Mac OSX and the most popular Machine Vision Libraries including MVTec Halcon, National Instruments Labview, OpenCV and Mathworks Matlab. An interesting option is a combination these miniature cameras with Linux ARM boards to further enhance the mobility of the overall system package.

    Next level of speed, unbeatable form factor, attractive price, compatibility and customisability make XIMEA USB3 Vision cameras stand out from the crowd and will also make your applications shine.

    For further information please contact one of our Machine Vision sales/applications engineers on 01582 764334 or click here to email.

  • Zygo Trade-ins & Upgrades Special Offer for used Metrology Systems

    There is no better time to trade in your older metrology equipment for a new state-of-the-art system from ZYGO, or upgrade your current system to increase its capabilities and extend its service life. ZYGO's current products include advanced technology, hardware enhancements, and current generation software and computer platform providing the highest value, reliability and metrology capabilities available today, while lowering your overall cost-of-ownership.

    Click here for more information.

  • How SEM helps analyse morphologies for nanofibres efficiently

    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.

    Examplecontrolling 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.

    Examplethe 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.

  • Your sample has a secret — reveal it with a new point of view!

    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.

    SEM image showing broken parts hidden by connecting cables

    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:

    • Loading and unloading can take a very long time, making the analysis extremely time-consuming;
    • It is difficult to find the same spot that was previously imaged, especially after tilting the sample and consequently losing all the reference points. In fact, the surface will look different when imaged from a different perspective;
    • Ejecting the sample from the microscope for repositioning involves a high chance of contamination, compromising the reproducibility of results.
    After tilting and rotating the sample, you have a better view of the broken edge

    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.

    An example of real-time 3D visualisation

    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.

    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.

  • Why the analysis of nanofibres requires a modern microscopy technique

    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.

    Fibres classification
    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.

    Non-wovens:

    • Are engineered fabrics
    • Have a targeted structure and targeted properties
    • Are manufactured by high speed and low-cost processes
    • Are based on the technologies of the creation of textiles, papers and plastics.

    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:

    • Chemical analysis - emission-, absorption spectrometry, XRF, XPS
    • Mechanical testing – tensile, abrasion, puncture
    • Microscopy – optical, electron optical (SEM), AFM.

    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 it the key to analyse your samples?

    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?

    A close-up of a particle shows the surface topography (FOV = 92.7 μm)

    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.

    A larger field of view allows you to image more particles (FOV = 1010 μm).

    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.

     

  • Extract: Randomised clinical trial to evaluate changes in dentine tubule occlusion following 4 weeks use of an occluding toothpaste

    Joon Seong, Charles P. Parkinson, Maria Davies, Nicholas C. A. Claydon & Nicola X West

    Fig. 1 Assessment of occlusion scores. Replica images representative of each occlusion score; score 1, fully occluded; score 2, mostly occluded;
    score 3, equally occluded/unoccluded; score 4, mostly unoccluded; score 5, unoccluded. As images are of negative replicas of the dentine surface, the presence of projections indicates that dentine tubules are unoccluded.

    "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 [20]. A weighted Kappa coefficient (κ) using the Fleiss-Cohen method of weighting [21] 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

  • UK Semiconductors 2017

    UK Semiconductors 2017. An annual conference on all aspects of semiconductor research.

    Wednesday-Thursday, 12-13th July 2017.

    Sheffield Hallam University, City Campus, Howard Street, Sheffield S1 1WB

    Click here for more information

  • Keysight Technologies - Score 2 Scopes for the Price of 1

     

    Receive a complimentary InfiniiVision DSOX1102G 100 MHz Oscilloscope when you buy a qualifying InfiniiVision Oscilloscope.

     

    Our Keysight InfiniiVision Oscilloscopes simplify your debug. See more of your signal with the industry’s fastest waveform update. Do more with up to 6 instruments in 1; oscilloscope, frequency response analyzer, function generator, DVM, counter, and protocol analyzer. You get more with fully upgradeable bandwidth and loads of applications.

    For more details please download the flyer or contact us on 01582 764334 or contact@lambdaphoto.co.uk

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