DENSsolutions’ Climate system takes home the Microscopy Today 2021 Innovation Award

DENSsolutions’ Climate system takes home the Microscopy Today 2021 Innovation Award

DENSsolutions becomes a consecutive two-time winner of the Microscopy Today Innovation Awards. This year, our Climate system is recognized as one of the 10 most game-changing microscopy innovations of 2021.

Just last year, our Stream system was awarded the Microscopy Today Innovation Award for its unique contribution to the field of liquid phase electron microscopy. We are honored to be taking home the same award for a second year in a row but this time for the remarkable innovation that is our Climate system. Climate is recognized as one of the 10 most game-changing microscopy innovations in 2021 by Microscopy Society of America‘s esteemed magazine, Microscopy Today. We interviewed our Chief Technology Officer Dr. Hugo Pérez-Garza, who led the development of the Climate system, to learn all about the unique benefits that made it earn such an esteemed award, as well as the development process and Climate’s current and envisioned applications. The transcript of the interview is provided below.

What was your reaction when you first heard the news?

It was pretty exciting. As you can imagine, the entire team was very happy when we first heard the news. At the end of the day, I think that this is just another consequence of the amazing teamwork that prevails in this company. And of course, to be accredited by the MSA is a big honor, especially as this is a highly esteemed award within the community. So it really means a lot to us. We really feel confident that our technology, and particularly our Climate system, will help scientists explore all sorts of new research possibilities.

What unique aspects of the system do you think made it earn such an esteemed award?

Over the last months, we have been exerting a lot of effort into making sure that we can improve the Climate system from various different angles. So that means that we have been doing a lot of work to ensure that we can optimize the different components that make up this plug-and-play system. Specifically, we have been trying to boost our MEMS capabilities (the Nano-Reactor). Moreover, we have been trying to continuously improve our hardware components, including the Gas Supply System, the Vaporizer, the Mass Spectrometer, etc. And of course, making sure that we can have new solutions as well for the software platform. Now when you put all these together, what we ended up realizing was that this new optimized Climate system brings all sort of real unique aspects to one’s research.

1) Live gas mixing

Firstly, Climate offers the possibility of performing live gas mixing (i.e. making sure that you can achieve any desired gas composition instantaneously). It ensures that users won’t have to wait for their gas mixtures to be prepared. We see this big added value in our customers’ experiments, for example in redox reactions, where the intrinsic nature of the experiment demands the possibility to quickly go from an oxidizing environment to a reducing environment. Often times people have to do this back-and-forth and in a fast and repetitive way. 

2) Start a new experiment (from a dry to wet environment or vice versa) within minutes

Furthermore, for these experiments a lot of researchers would be interested in humidifying the gas composition. This is precisely where the Vaporizer comes in. Now what happens here is that when you are humidifying the gas, often people are afraid of the contamination that the water molecules would represent for the gas lines. And that is why systems have to baked or have to undergo lengthy pumping times. But that wouldn’t be the case with the Vaporizer, as we have designed it in such a way that the introduction of the water vapor to the gas mixture is the last thing before entering the holder. So that ensures that your Gas Supply System will remain clean, and that you don’t have to perform these baking procedures or keep it pumping over night. This ultimately means you can go from a dry environment to a wet environment, or vice versa, in just a few minutes. So it opens up a lot of possibilities because it gives users this flexibility. 

3) Safely work with explosive mixtures and independently control gas parameters

The fact that we’re dealing with extremely low volumes of gas also means that we can safely handle explosive mixtures even if you plan to do this under extreme conditions such as high temperatures (above 1000°C) in combination with high pressures (i.e. 2 bars) and high relative humidity (i.e. 100%). Not only can you safely handle these explosive mixtures, but you can also control the relative humidity independently from other parameters such as temperature, pressure, gas composition and flow rate. So having this independent control also brings a lot of flexibility to users. 

4) Perform real nano-calorimetry and calibrate for time delay

The Nano-Reactor is also something very unique as we have been heavily optimizing the design such that, for example, the microheater allows for real nano-calorimetry. And this is really unique because it means that you can start quantifying and measuring the tiniest changes in temperature dissipation to understand if you’re observing an exothermic or endothermic reaction. And this is also really beneficial because you can calibrate for time delay, which is an issue that systems usually suffer from due to the unavoidable delay from the Gas Supply System to the MEMS device and to the Mass Spectrometer. Now, we can calibrate for that. 

5)  Prevent bypasses and achieve a desirable SNR

Moreover, the unique design of the Nano-Reactor itself, for which we have a patent, ensures that we can have an on-chip inlet and outlet. In other words, we can ensure that the gas will flow from the inlet to the outlet via the region of interest in a uni-directional way. And that means we can prevent bypasses and therefore improve the signal-to-noise ratio and the sensitivity of the Gas Analyzer. So the combination of these offerings (for example that our MEMS device can go to these high pressures like 2 bar, or allow you to perform EDS experiments well above 900 degrees at high pressures) ends up bringing a very unique value proposition for the user. 

What unique aspects of the system do you think made it earn such an esteemed award?

Over the last months, we have been exerting a lot of effort into making sure that we can improve the Climate system from various different angles. So that means that we have been doing a lot of work to ensure that we can optimize the different components that make up this plug-and-play system. Specifically, we have been trying to boost our MEMS capabilities (the Nano-Reactor). Moreover, we have been trying to continuously improve our hardware components, including the Gas Supply System, the Vaporizer, the Mass Spectrometer, etc. And of course, making sure that we can have new solutions as well for the software platform. Now when you put all these together, what we ended up realizing was that this new optimized Climate system brings all sort of real unique aspects to one’s research.

1) Live gas mixing

Firstly, Climate offers the possibility of performing live gas mixing (i.e. making sure that you can achieve any desired gas composition instantaneously). It ensures that users won’t have to wait for their gas mixtures to be prepared. We see this big added value in our customers’ experiments, for example in redox reactions, where the intrinsic nature of the experiment demands the possibility to quickly go from an oxidizing environment to a reducing environment. Often times people have to do this back-and-forth and in a fast and repetitive way. 

2) Start a new experiment (from a dry to wet environment or vice versa) within minutes

Furthermore, for these experiments a lot of researchers would be interested in humidifying the gas composition. This is precisely where the Vaporizer comes in. Now what happens here is that when you are humidifying the gas, often people are afraid of the contamination that the water molecules would represent for the gas lines. And that is why systems have to baked or have to undergo lengthy pumping times. But that wouldn’t be the case with the Vaporizer, as we have designed it in such a way that the introduction of the water vapor to the gas mixture is the last thing before entering the holder. So that ensures that your Gas Supply System will remain clean, and that you don’t have to perform these baking procedures or keep it pumping over night. This ultimately means you can go from a dry environment to a wet environment, or vice versa, in just a few minutes. So it opens up a lot of possibilities because it gives users this flexibility. 

3) Safely work with explosive mixtures and independently control gas parameters

The fact that we’re dealing with extremely low volumes of gas also means that we can safely handle explosive mixtures even if you plan to do this under extreme conditions such as high temperatures (above 1000°C) in combination with high pressures (i.e. 2 bars) and high relative humidity (i.e. 100%). Not only can you safely handle these explosive mixtures, but you can also control the relative humidity independently from other parameters such as temperature, pressure, gas composition and flow rate. So having this independent control also brings a lot of flexibility to users. 

4) Perform real nano-calorimetry and calibrate for time delay

The Nano-Reactor is also something very unique as we have been heavily optimizing the design such that, for example, the microheater allows for real nano-calorimetry. And this is really unique because it means that you can start quantifying and measuring the tiniest changes in temperature dissipation to understand if you’re observing an exothermic or endothermic reaction. And this is also really beneficial because you can calibrate for time delay, which is an issue that systems usually suffer from due to the unavoidable delay from the Gas Supply System to the MEMS device and to the Mass Spectrometer. Now, we can calibrate for that. 

5)  Prevent bypasses and achieve a desirable SNR

Moreover, the unique design of the Nano-Reactor itself, for which we have a patent, ensures that we can have an on-chip inlet and outlet. In other words, we can ensure that the gas will flow from the inlet to the outlet via the region of interest in a uni-directional way. And that means we can prevent bypasses and therefore improve the signal-to-noise ratio and the sensitivity of the Gas Analyzer. So the combination of these offerings (for example that our MEMS device can go to these high pressures like 2 bar, or allow you to perform EDS experiments well above 900 degrees at high pressures) ends up bringing a very unique value proposition for the user. 

What inspired you and the entire team to develop Climate in the first place?

Certainly understanding the importance and the impact that environmental studies can have on our global society was a big source of inspiration for the entire team. Having said that, understanding the solid-gas interactions at the nanoscale is what sets the foundation such that scientists can really start understanding how to optimize and synthesize future catalytic nanoparticles, which will end up playing a crucial role in applications such as carbon capture, energy storage and conversion as well as food production. So it is really this profound information that we can get from in situ TEM that gives this understanding. Because when you can start correlating particle size with composition, crystal orientation, or with the atomic or the electronic structure, it really gives a deep level of understanding for all these kinds of experiments. 

Can you walk us through the development process of Climate?

It has been 5 or 6 years since we launched our first product line for in situ gas analysis. Ever since, what we have been doing is trying to make sure that we can stay as close as we can to our customers as well as prospects. Now the intention of doing that is when you start gathering the feedback and the vision that both groups have, you start understanding the pain points a little bit more. You start becoming more empathic to their experimental needs. And that helps us identify the product profile that we should have in place. And when you are aware of this product profile, then automatically you know what technologies must be developed, which is part of your roadmap. And subsequently when you have that in place, then you also know what people and processes must be involved. So, it’s a matter of doing that so that when we gather these market requirements, we can follow a defined product creation process that will allow us to develop a technology that will match these market requirements. 

What future applications do you envision for Climate?

Certainly everything related to green technologies. As I mentioned earlier, that is a big goal and motivation that we all have at this company. So these kinds of experiments and topics I was referring to like carbon capture, energy conversion and storage, and all sort of environmental protection kind of studies, that’s really where everything will head towards. 

Thank you for reading. To learn more about our Climate system please follow the links below.

Download the Climate brochure: 

See a customer publication:

Receive a quotation:

Receive a demo:

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest in situ microscopy news.

Introducing our latest product: the Climate G+ Vaporizer

Introducing our latest product: the Climate G+ Vaporizer

An interview with DENSsolutions R&D Engineer Ronald Spruit about our latest extension of the Climate G+ product line: the Vaporizer

Ronald Spruit Vaporizer article 1200x628

DENSsolutions introduces its latest product: the Vaporizer — an extension of the Climate G+ product line. This innovative solution takes your in situ experiments to a whole new level, enabling you to independently add water vapor to any gas mixture of up to 3 gases. We interview our R&D Engineer Ronald Spruit to learn all about the Vaporizer, from what inspired its development, its unique capabilities and the many applications that will benefit from its creation.

What led to the development of the Climate G+ Vaporizer?

The DENSsolutions Climate system has been widely used to study catalysis, nanomaterial growth and corrosion. Currently, the system provides a highly controlled gas and temperature environment, allowing users to independently control gas composition, gas pressure, gas flow rate and temperature. To enable this high level of control, the development of Climate has been aimed at delivering and mixing gases in the most accurate and clean way possible. 

Typically, high-purity gases are being used in combination with the Climate Gas Supply System (GSS). As a consequence, the environment that is created in the Nano-Reactor can be very dry. However, it is known that realistic scenarios and industrially relevant applications often occur under conditions where the gas is not perfectly dry, but in conditions where vapors are present. Moreover, although water’s negative effects on metal corrosion and catalyst deactivation have been well-researched for decades, the study of water’s influence on gas-solid reactions inside a TEM is limited. This is due to the lack of control over the flow rate and pressure of the water vapor, as well as the fear of contaminating high-vacuum TEM columns.

We therefore wanted to develop a solution that tackles these limitations by allowing users to add water vapor to their gas flow, and have the liberty to fully control the water vapor pressure. This is precisely what the Vaporizer enables. With the development of the Vaporizer, we hope to not only make new research involving water possible, but also draw attention to the importance of controlling water vapor levels to increase the repeatability of in situ experiments.

What are the main benefits of the Climate G+ Vaporizer?

The Vaporizer further extends the unique capabilities of the Climate G+ system, making your in situ experiments more accurate, reliable and representative of realistic conditions than ever before.

1) Independently control gas parameters: In addition to the independent control of gas pressure, flow and composition that the Climate G+ offers, the Vaporizer allows for the fully independent control of one more significant gas parameter: the level of water vapor pressure over the complete range of 0 to 25 mbar. This means that for the first time, you can fine-tune any of the above-mentioned parameters with the assurance that the others stay perfectly steady.

2) Start a new experiment in minutes: The Vaporizer has been designed to be versatile, fast and flexible. The vapor is added to the gas flow as provided by the GSS just before the gas enters the TEM holder. Therefore, the GSS remains free of water vapor, allowing you to switch back and forth between ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ conditions or even start a new experiment in a matter of minutes.

3) Safely work with explosive mixtures: A known unique feature of the Climate G+ system is that it allows you to safely work with flammable or even explosive mixtures thanks to its live mixing feature and minimal internal volume. This benefit extends into the Vaporizer, which allows you to safely add water vapor to any gas mixture.

Which applications will benefit most from the Climate G+ Vaporizer?

Applications that will highly benefit most from the Vaporizer include catalysis reactions involving water, catalyst deactivation caused by water, and metal corrosion. 

For example, in our published application note, we use the Vaporizer to study the reconstruction behavior of NiAu bimetallic core-shell nanoparticles, a catalyst system highly selective to CO in CO2 hydrogenation, under a hybrid atmosphere of water and hydrogen. For the NiAu nanoparticles, water is a reaction product. By controlling the water pressure, it is revealed that a solid NiO shell forms at high water vapor levels, reversible loose NiO appears and disappears at low water vapor levels and no NiO formation occurs with no water. The results provide perspective on the complex role that water plays on reactions. Moreover, the ability to introduce water vapor in a controlled fashion can help researchers design more water-sustainable catalysts.

In the future, we also expect the Vaporizer to be useful for applications involving solid batteries that require some need for water.

What is the compatibility of the Climate G+ Vaporizer?

The Vaporizer is designed for and fully compatible with the Climate G+ product line.  It is also directly compatible with most generations of Climate S3+ systems. However, for these systems it’s best to get in touch with us to confirm the compatibility, possibilities and potential aspects to consider.

What kind of challenges were tackled during development?

One of the main challenges of this development was designing the Vaporizer in such a way that it would be fully compatible with the Climate G+ system, while maintaining our existing unique features and benefits. Fortunately, we were able to find a good solution to integrate the hardware, control mechanisms and software seamlessly into each other. As a result, the Climate system feels as if the Vaporizer has always been part of it and at the same time the Vaporizer can be seen as an add-on to existing systems. This serves new users with a system that can do it all as well as ensures backwards compatibility to existing systems such that we don’t exclude the loyal users of our systems from the possibility to upgrade with this new vapor feature.

Read more about the Vaporizer:

 

Download the application note:

Receive a quotation:

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest in situ microscopy news.

Impulse 1.1: Experience true experimental freedom with Python

Impulse 1.1: Experience true experimental freedom with Python

With the latest version of Impulse, you can now control our systems using Python scripts and fully customize your experiments

Impulse 1.1 python

We are excited to announce the release of our latest Impulse 1.1 software. By creating an API for Impulse, this new update will enable you to exercise creative control over your experiments and inspire you to break the boundaries of your research. We interview our Product Architect (UX) Merijn Pen who led this development, so that you can learn all about Impulse 1.1 and how it can elevate your research.

What can users achieve with this latest version of Impulse?

1) Infinite control

With Impulse 1.1, users will now have the opportunity to experience unlimited flexibility in the control of our systems via Python scripts. In Impulse, we already have an advanced yet easy-to-use profile builder that enables you to design your own experiments. All the basic functionalities that you would require, like creating temperature ramps or pulses, are made possible with the profile builder. However, if you would like to perform more customized experiments involving for example, a particular temperature curve, more flexibility is required. This is exactly where scripting comes in. It will enable you to control multiple stimuli within our systems in any way you please.

You can also create your own feedback loops, where you can interdependently control multiple stimuli in your experiment. Specifically, you can create scripts that look at one parameter and based on some calculation or analysis that you perform on that measurement, it will subsequently control another parameter.

2) Systems integration

With Python, you can write scripts that not only control stimuli within our in situ systems, but also integrate other hardware in your experiment setup that also have an API. For example, you can trigger the data capturing of your camera from the same scripts that control your stimuli and direct the entire experiment. Moreover, in regards to data integration, scripting also allows for the real time tagging of your imaging data with all the parameters of our in situ systems. Ultimately, the main benefit of this hardware integration capability is that it makes the control of the orchestra of equipment in your in situ experiments a lot easier. You can synchronize the control of all the different equipment from one place and in that way make sure that each instrument performs its task at the right moment. 

3) Processing and analysis

Python offers thousands of open-source modules that include all kinds of functionalities that allow for real-time processing and analysis of your experimental data. Therefore, with scripting you can draw conclusions from your experiments much faster.

How can users get access to Python scripts?

Overtime, we will be building an opensource database on Github where there will be numerous scripts that perform all kinds of experimental controls, integrations with other equipment, and data processing and analysis. You can use these scripts as is or customize them according to your needs. Our Github page not only offers example scripts that you can easily download, but it also includes tutorials that will help beginner programmers get started with Python programming. In fact, it should help anyone, from basic beginners to more advanced users. Of course, aside from our own database, you can find numerous scripts online as there is plenty of opensource information available online. 

What led you to develop this new version of Impulse?

The vision of impulse is to make in situ experiments a lot easier and more efficient to perform. When developing and improving our software, I always put myself in the mindset of our customer and think what they would like to see. For some customers, they want to perform experiments that have never been done before. The development of Impulse 1.1 will enable this experimental flexibility and freedom. We want to give users the opportunity but also the inspiration to break the boundaries of research.

For those users who desire more basic functionalities and an easy-to-use environment, our current Impulse user interface delivers just that. With our new Python interface, we now offer unlimited flexibility to any user who would like to perform experiments that our current user interface does not allow. Of course, we will still be expanding the capabilities of the user interface of Impulse and the software itself. Ultimately, we are very proud to have found a way to develop a software that maintains ease-of-use while still offering users limitless flexibility.

Which future developments lie ahead?

Besides the Python control of the system, this API also opens the doors for new integrations into all kinds of software platforms that will be showing up in the near future. We will always strive to find innovative ways to give our customers a fully integrated user experience.

Read more:

Try Impulse yourself:

Do you want to receive great articles like this in your mailbox? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Meet our Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Hugo Pérez

Meet our Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Hugo Pérez

Hugo feature image

At DENSsolutions, we persistently challenge ourselves to develop the most innovative and outstanding solutions that you need to advance your research. This continuous yet passionate pursuit has been led for years by our Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Hugo Pérez, a longstanding pillar within this company. He has played a critical role in positioning DENSsolutions as a global leader in the field of in-situ TEM, and bringing home the Microscopy Today 2020 award. 

In this latest addition to DENSsolutions Meet the Team series, we interview Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Hugo Pérez, so you can learn all about his diverse educational experiences and wild backstory.

Where it all started

“My name is Hugo Pérez and I’m 35-year-old proud Mexican born in the beautiful city of Chihuahua. Although I was raised in Mexico and it holds a special place in my heart, I have lived in 7 countries around the world including the USA, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

“I’ve always said that my passion is MEMS and nanotechnology, my obsession is biology, but my heart lies within business management.” – Dr. Hugo Pérez 

When deciding what to study early on in my life, I was doubting whether to go for medicine or engineering. After much deliberation, I decided to go for the latter as I realized that I could later on in my career apply the developed technical skills for medical devices and healthcare purposes. I obtained my BSc in Mechatronics Engineering at the Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico. It was during my bachelor’s studies, and especially during my time in Canada and Germany, that I was introduced to the world of nanotechnology and realized that there was nothing more I wanted to do. I was amazed by the wide scope of possibilities in which this disruptive technology could be used. So, I started discussing with my supervisors, expressing my intention of specializing in micro/nano-mechatronics, with the aim of one day having the knowledge to develop electromechanical systems at the molecular scale for biomedical purposes. Funnily enough, I was partly inspired by the movie Fantastic Voyage, where a submarine and its crew were shrunken to microscopic size and injected into the bloodstream of a scientist in order to save his life.

Stream-LPEM-system-Microscopy-Today-2020-Innovation-award-400x250

Stream LPEM system wins the Microscopy Today 2020 Innovation award

 

A conversation with our CTO Dr. Hugo Pérez who has been leading the development of the award-winning system.

The first of many MSc degrees

“Coincidentally, both my supervisors in Canada and Germany, who didn’t know each other, gave me the exact same advice: to pursue a MSc in Molecular Bioengineering at TU-Dresden, in Germany. But before doing so, I had my first professional experience working within the industry, where I spent a bit over 1.5 years working as an Automation Engineer at GCC, a large cement company in Mexico. This job gave me a lot of exposure to chemistry and material science, and allowed me to discover much more about the power of using nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes. As you can imagine, this experience only grew my desire further to specialize in nanotechnology.

“From that point onwards, and for the next many years, I would be spending most of my time inside the cleanroom, learning all kinds of processes and tips & tricks to manufacture nanodevices.”

So, after this rewarding experience, I took my supervisors’ advice to heart, and jumped back to Germany to start my first (of three) Master’s degree. Studying molecular bioengineering gave me the opportunity to learn about molecular biology and all kinds of exciting applications in genetics and proteomics. However, as interesting as it was, I was still missing the engineering side that would allow me to design and manufacture nanodevices. This is precisely why I moved to Sweden to pursue a second MSc degree in Nanotechnology at the Chalmers University of Technology. It was thanks to this second MSc degree that I properly got immersed in the world of NEMS/MEMS and micro/nano-fabrication. From that point onwards, and for the next many years, I would be spending most of my time inside the cleanroom, learning all kinds of processes and tips & tricks to manufacture nanodevices.”

Hugo image with illustrations

Mission impossible

“After finishing my second MSc, and given the fact that this was all very intense, I was prepared to go back to the industry with the aim of slowly starting to move towards a highly ranked management position in a high-tech company. However, destiny had something else prepared for me. I ended up getting a PhD position at TU-Delft in the Netherlands. Although pursuing a PhD was not part of the plan, I couldn’t deny this opportunity given the fact that the project was exactly what I was looking for. Not only that, but my promotor would be Dr. Urs Staufer, a remarkable scientist who led NASA’s Phoenix Mars Mission and developed the first nanosensor for planetary science able to measure the presence of water molecules on Mars. I took this opportunity as a great chance to learn from one of the best.

“At a certain point I was working in parallel on two different PhD projects while simultaneously pursuing an MBA.”

To make the story more complicated, another opportunity came up to pursue a third Master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Cumbria. Of course, I didn’t hesitate to jump on this considering my goal has always been to become a successful businessman. However, destiny still had another surprise for me: the appearance of another PhD project on graphene manipulation. Therefore, at a certain point I was working in parallel on two different PhD projects while simultaneously pursuing an MBA. This complete academic experience, which was extremely demanding, forced me to become a very structured and time-efficient person. This is partly the reason why I’ve won the best scientific paper on a number of occasions at prestigious international conferences.

Now, at DENSsolutions, I’m trying to exploit all these experiences to the most, not just to lead the company on the right technological path, but also to bring the business to a higher level. I enjoy acting as a coach to my colleagues and ensuring there’s always something they can learn from me. From a commercial perspective, what I enjoy the most is pitching our technology to convince people of our solutions, as well as trying to close new deals. It excites me that researchers all over the world in a wide variety of applications rely on our advanced technologies to conduct their research. Keeping the right balance between business and science is what has allowed me to strengthen my international network, and what has given me the possibility to be in contact with global industrial leaders and some of the greatest scientific minds in the community.”

Thank you for reading this article! If you would like to ask Hugo any questions, whether it’s about his education, experience or knowledge, please don’t hesitate to contact him via the form below

Discover Hugo’s publications

Do you want to receive great articles like this in your mailbox? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Installing South Korea’s second Stream system at Seoul National University

Installing South Korea’s second Stream system at Seoul National University

DENSsolutions Installing South Korea's second Stream system at Seoul National University

The team at SNU (From left to right) Prof Jungwon Park, Back Kyu Choi, Minyoung Lee and Junyoung Heo.

With the second ever installation of a Stream LPEM Solution in South Korea, we get an insider’s look at the microscopy laboratory at the Seoul National University. We interviewed Prof Jungwon Park from the National Center for Inter-University Research Facilities to find out how our solutions will benefit their research when investigating synthetic mechanisms of inorganic nanocrystals.

Can you tell us a bit about the microscopy facility at Seoul National University SNU?

Seoul National University has a shared research facility called NCIRF (National Center for Inter-University Research Facilities) that has specialities in various fields of analysis, such as organic, inorganic, surface analysis, and x-ray techniques. NCIRF also has a special team in electron microscopy, which provides SEM, TEM, and other pretreatment equipment including FIB and Nanomill.

This shared facility was established around 30 years ago. Recently, two spherical aberration-corrected TEM and STEM, JEM-ARM200F, were installed, providing atomic-resolution electron microscopy images. Also, in our own center, the Institute for Basic Science Center for Nanoparticle Research, we have our own JEOL JEM-2100F TEM in our building which is utilized routinely for a lot of in situ EM studies.

What type of applications are your users interested in with regards to the Stream system installed?

Our users are interested in various nanocrystal dynamics. Regarding the Stream system, we are expecting to investigate the synthetic mechanism of colloidal inorganic nanocrystals by changing the liquid cell temperature and injected precursor solution. Also, we are planning to investigate transformation phenomena of colloidal nanocrystals in various liquid environments. Moreover, we are expecting to observe polymers or proteins in liquid, and their stimuli-responsive reactions using the Stream system.

What particular features of the DENSsolutions Stream solution attracted you to the system?

When it comes to liquid cell TEM experiments, it is crucial to ensure that a controlled amount of liquid is injected to the desired position, while minimizing the decrease in spatial resolution of TEM stemming from the window bulging effect. In this sense, the Stream system by DENSsolutions was quite attractive to us.
With ensured liquid flow from Nano-cell design, controlled injection of liquid, as well as mitigated window- bulging originating from the pressure-based liquid pump, and also along with the liquid heating control system, the Stream solution seemed to help us to design various in situ liquid cell systems which were unachievable with other in situ holders.

What particular features of Stream attracted you to the system?

For our experiments, it was essential to find a way to control the flux of the liquid within the liquid cell in order to look at reactions or processes occurring on the location of the electron beam. This is something we were unable to do with previous generations of holders and chips. The DENSsolutions Stream system is the only system that allows you to completely control the liquid flux. This unique capability is what intrigued us most about the system.
Moreover, as a result of the Nano-cell’s special inlet-outlet design, we are also able to fully control the pressure and liquid thickness. Other features that we found very attractive include the control systems like the heating control unit and the pressure-based pump, which are considerably more elaborate compared to what we had in the past.

In your experience so far, how have you found the Stream system?

At first, the Stream system was quite complicated to us since a lot of elaborate systems were installed. But soon we realized that it was much simpler than it seemed. The method to assemble the Stream holder was easy compared to other liquid cell TEM holders, and the way to control the injection solution was straightforward. And since a lot of O rings are used to encapsulate the Nano-cell, the holder seems to be very stable without leakage problems while operating the TEM. Also, the heating control software was upgraded from the Wildfire version, making it much easier to use the program.

DENSsolutions Prof. Jungwon Park

Jungwon Park, Ph.D
Associate Professor | Seoul National University

Jungwon Park received his B.S. degree from the Department of Chemistry, POSTECH, South Korea, in 2003, and his Ph.D. degree from the Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, in 2012. After a post-doc with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, he started a faculty position with the School of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Seoul National University, in 2016, and he currently serves as an associate professor jointly affiliated with the Center for Nanoparticle Research, Institute for Basic Science (IBS). His research areas include the in-situ study of nanomaterials, liquid-phase TEM, phase transitions, interface chemistry, and low-dimensional materials.

Learn more about Stream:

Discover Jungwon Park’s publications:

Discover publications made possible by Stream:

Do you want to receive great articles like this in your mailbox? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Meet our new Regional Sales Manager, Dr. Eva Bladt

Meet our new Regional Sales Manager, Dr. Eva Bladt

DENSsolutions Eva Bladt
DENSsolutions Eva Bladt

Building strong and long-standing customer relationships has always been a paramount objective at DENSsolutions. In efforts to increase our impact in the Nordics, Benelux, the U.K. and Ireland, we needed somebody who could further strengthen our ties with customers and expand our user base in these regions.

We have found just the right person to carry out these responsibilities, Dr. Eva Bladt, our new Regional Sales Manager. Eva has a comprehensive understanding of materials science and electron microscopy, as well as a strong interpersonal skillset that allows her to communicate her extensive knowledge with ease. Her role at DENSsolutions is focused on further establishing relationships with our customers in the Nordics, Benelux, the U.K. and Ireland, enabling scientists to tackle their complex research questions using our innovative in-situ solutions.

We asked Eva to introduce herself so you can learn more about her education, background and role at DENSsolutions.

Eva’s academic journey

“My name is Eva Bladt and I am 30 years old. I was born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium and have lived there my whole life except for last year when I moved to Melbourne, Australia for 6 months. When deciding what I wanted to study after high school, I actually had three options, all of which were exceptionally different from one another: a Bachelor’s in Dance, a Bachelor’s in Medicine and a Bachelor’s in Physics. After months of deliberation, I decided to pursue a Bachelor’s in Biomedical Sciences. Six weeks later, I realized I had made the wrong choice. I discovered that medicine didn’t excite me the way physics did, so I changed my studies and pursued a Bachelor’s in Physics instead. I immediately felt that this degree was a better fit for me.

I graduated with a MSc in Physics in 2013 from the University of Antwerp. During my Physics education, I developed a passion for materials science and electron microscopy. This translated into a Bachelor and Master thesis under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Sara Bals, a true expert in the field of electron tomography. After graduating, I started as a PhD in Sara’s group at EMAT (Electron Microscopy for Materials Science), one of the leading electron microscopy centers in the world. I focused on the 3D structural characterization of functional nanoparticles, particularly metallic and semiconductor nanoparticles. To pursue this PhD fellowship, I received a personal FWO (Research Foundation – Flanders) grant.

After receiving my PhD degree in 2017, I continued as a post-doctoral researcher at EMAT, which was also funded by a personal FWO grant. I mainly carried out atomic structure characterization studies of perovskite nanostructures and 3D thermal stability investigations of metallic nanoparticles. During my post-doc research, I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to perform a research stay at the Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy in Melbourne, Australia, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Joanne Etheridge. During this research period, I focused on the 2D and 3D characterization of twinned metallic nanoparticles. This was a truly unique experience both on an academic and personal level.”

A new career path

“Although I’ve been a part of the academic world for quite some time now, I decided it was time for me to embark on a new career path. Moving away from academia was definitely not an easy decision, as nanoscience is undoubtedly where my passion lies. However, I couldn’t deny that I was longing for some change in my life. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what role I was searching for, but I knew it had to allow me to stay close to the field.

“I knew right away that this position was meant for me, not only because it allows me to stay close to the field of nanoscience, but also to exercise my passion for communication.” – Dr. Eva Bladt

When searching for positions a couple months ago, I came across an opening for Regional Sales Manager at DENSsolutions, a company whose solutions I was highly familiar with already. During my thermal stability studies, I worked extensively with the DENSsolutions Wildfire solution, an in-situ TEM heating system that has always impressed me, particularly for its extreme stability even at high temperatures. I knew right away that this position was meant for me, not only because it allows me to stay close to the field of nanoscience, but also to exercise my passion for communication. Aside from conducting research, I have always enjoyed communicating and presenting my results and have done so at various international conferences.

I think that my background in materials science and electron microscopy is of high value to this role particularly because I am able to understand customers’ specific research needs. This will allow me to step into the mind of the customer and better address their needs, ultimately enabling them to perform more meaningful research studies. I am really excited to be getting in touch with scientists in different fields and hope to expand DENSsolutions’s customers base with satisfied customers who will achieve ground-breaking insights using our solutions.”

Thank you for reading this article. If you would like to know more about Eva, don’t hesitate to contact her via email or LinkedIn.

Discover Eva Bladt’s Wildfire publications

3D characterization of heat-induced morphological changes of Au nanostars by fast in situ electron tomography 

 

Thermal stability of gold/palladium octopods studied in situ in 3D

 

Quantitative 3D characterization of elemental diffusion dynamics in individual Ag-Au nanoparticles with different shapes 

 

Do you want to receive great articles like this in your mailbox? Subscribe to our newsletter.