A conversation with our Product Architect (UX) Merijn Pen.

DENSsolutions introduces the new Impulse 1.0 software. This new Impulse allows you to take complete control of your in situ TEM experiments, performed with our Wildfire, Lightning and Climate systems. We interviewed our Product Architect (UX) Merijn Pen who led the development of this new release to get all the ins and outs. 

Why was this new version of Impulse developed?

As the DENSsolutions In Situ portfolio grows, so does the number of stimuli that our users can simultaneously introduce to their sample. Each additional stimulus brings its own set of parameters that need to be controlled and monitored, which used to make running In Situ experiments increasingly complicated.

To run an experiment with our Climate system for example, the user needs to control the sample temperature and several gas condition parameters with high accuracy while simultaneously performing measurements such as calorimetry and mass spectrometry. To be able to perform such an experiment, intuitive software is needed to reduce the complexity of operation while at the same time offering full control for every individual parameter.

In order to draw meaningful conclusions, our users want to understand the influence of an individual parameter change on the process that they study. Isolating the influence of a single parameter change is only possible if you are able to reproduce the exact same experiment multiple times, meeting all the stimuli setpoints over and over again. The active involvement of the user in the operation of the stimuli can cause problems as it introduces uncontrolled variables that can lead to variation between experiments. Impulse was developed to eliminate these issues by introducing experiment automation.

What are the main benefits of this new version?

Our previous release, Impulse 0.5, already made it possible for users to perform heating and biasing experiments from a single easy-to-use interface. With this update, we have added the Gas Supply Systems and Gas Analyzer so that Climate users also benefit from complete system integration in Impulse.

The Profile Builder environment, where users can design their experiments for automation, has been upgraded with Smart Automation. This new feature guarantees reproducible experimental conditions, even for complex systems with interdependent parameters such as the Gas Supply System. Now, a single operator can perform and reproduce experiments with ease and trust the results. The possibility to automate the complete range of stimuli from one experiment profile also enables users to optimize their experimental conditions on a bench setup which saves valuable time at the TEM.

Another important feature in Impulse is the flexible dashboard that can adapt to any type of experiment and offers a complete overview in a single glance. The user can add, remove, rearrange and resize graphs to create the perfect overview. With this dashboard, users are able to quickly detect changes and draw conclusions from the data.

And lastly, the Impulse 1.0 software produces synchronized data that can easily be imported into Gatan Microscopy Suite and TVIPS software. This enables the user to quickly correlate their in situ data with the TEM images and makes it easier to create images that can be used in publications.

Who are the people that will benefit from it?

Impulse is compatible with all Wildfire, Lightning and Climate systems, so all existing users can benefit from this new release. As well as any new customer, as Impulse will be shipped with any new system sold after the 1st of June.

Some of our Wildfire and Lightning customers are already familiar with the previous release, Impulse 0.5. For those customers, the free upgrade to Impulse 1.0 brings numerous incremental improvements that were developed based on the feedback that some early users have shared with us.

Climate users will notice significant benefits from this new release. These users can now control and automate complete heating, gas and gas analyzer experiments with Impulse. Plus, there are some new features that are tailored for gas and heating experiments, such as Real-time Calorimetry and Smart Automation.

What kind of challenges were tackled during development?

One of the biggest challenges during development was improving the ease-of-use without sacrificing functionality. On the one hand, we strive to make the experiment workflow as simple as possible, on the other hand we want to offer maximum flexibility for controlling the sample conditions.

With Impulse 1.0 we have managed to combine the complete range of controls and parameters into one easy to use interface, without compromising on functionality and flexibility.

Did we cooperate with customers on this development?

Of course! Customers are at the heart of our designs so we have involved customers throughout the conceptualization, development and testing phases of Impulse. This gave us a lot of insight and, in the end, resulted in a better product.

We will continue to listen to our customers while we expand the capabilities of the Impulse platform in future developments. For this reason we have set up an online service desk at support.denssolutions.com where I invite all customers to share their feature ideas and feedback to help define the future of In Situ TEM.

What is the compatibility of Impulse 1.0?

Impulse 1.0 software is compatible with the DENSsolutions Wildfire, Lightning and Climate systems. Impulse connects to the DENSsolutions Heating Control Unit (HCU), Keithley 2450 source measuring unit (SMU), the DENSsolutions Gas Supply Systems and DENSsolutions Gas Analyzer.

Which future developments lie ahead?

The next big step will be to turn Impulse into an open platform. We will develop an open API to enable collaborations with other brands, integrations into more software platforms and advanced experiment controls through scripting.

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