Editorial Feature

Next-Generation Raman Microscope Technology for Enhanced Particle Analysis

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WITec GmbH has upgraded its world-class microparticle analysis system, ParticleScout. The enhancement improves speed and versatility, and is a forerunner in the next generation of Raman microscope technology.

Microparticle Identification Systems that Respond to Research Needs

Founded in 1997 in Ulm, Germany, WITec is a market leader in nano-analytical microscope systems, with a widely-used product line that includes AFM and SNOM products and systems as well as its groundbreaking Raman microscope technology. The company focuses on introducing new technologies, and a third of its staff are employed in R&D.

This innovation-first model – combined with WITec’s extensive field presence through regional offices worldwide – fosters an ideal environment for good design and engineering that actively seeks out users' needs and preferences.

“The first release of ParticleScout was a response to the general demand for a microparticle analysis system built around Raman spectroscopy,” said Harald Fischer, Marketing Director at WITec. “This version is driven by direct feedback from researchers and their specific requirements in laboratories focused on environmental research, food science, pharmaceutics and many other applications.”

Automated Particle Analysis Technology

ParticleScout is an industry-leading software application that analyzes data from a Raman microscope. It works alongside WITec’s alpha300 series of Raman microscope systems to provide enhanced particle analysis.

The ParticleScout microparticle analysis system runs automated routines with the spectrographic data it collects from a connected Raman spectrograph microscope. These locate and sort the particles in the sample, acquire their Raman spectra to categorize, identify and quantify them. Automatically generated sample reports are produced according to the users’ requirements.

WITec ParticleScout- Find, Classify and Identify Particles

Image Credit: WITec Microscopy/YouTube.com

Particle Analysis Solutions for Raman Microscope Technology

Raman microscope technology makes use of the Raman effect to identify individual particles in gaseous, liquid, or solid materials samples. This works when an emitted light source with a known wavelength interacts with different particles of matter in the sample.

A weak scattering effect results when photons interacting with different particles bounce off of those particles at different wavelengths (or colors on the color spectrum). This is named after the scientist who discovered it: the Raman effect.

Each material produces a unique scattering of photons at different wavelengths – called a spectra. As each spectra is unique, spectrography can identify the spectral “fingerprints” of different materials in a sample to find out what exactly the sample contains.

When this technique is combined with confocal microscopy, spectra data includes information on nano-sized particles that may only be present in samples in tiny trace amounts. In very heterogeneous or large samples, this entails correspondingly large sets of data.

A microparticle analysis system such as the ParticleScout is necessary for an increasingly large number of Raman microscope technology applications that rely on powerful and accurate analyses of large samples in good time. Enhanced particle analysis – provided by next-generation applications such as ParticleScout – will make even more impactful applications of this technology possible in the coming years.

Enhanced Particle Analysis

The latest update to the ParticleScout application enhances the front-running microparticle analysis system with new features that make the tool faster and more versatile.

New features include:

  • Integration Time Optimization

This determines how long particles are measured for identification using the signal to noise ratio. As well as optimization analysis time for quicker turnaround, this also reduces the risk of fluorescence obscuring particle data.

  • Vignetting Correction

This automatically corrects data errors caused by vignetting at the edges of the sample image.

  • Smart Zoom

Particle information can be displayed dynamically, depending on the area of the sample being viewed by the user.

  • Multiple Sample Area Targeting

With the upgraded ParticleScout application, users can simultaneously target multiple sample areas for analysis. This greatly improves through time.

  • Integration and Combination of Different Types of Illumination

The enhanced system works with dark-field, bright-field, epifluorescence, and transmission sample illumination. It can also work with these illumination types in combination, performing simultaneous multiple particle analyses. Again, this can drastically improve over time.

  • Wedge Section Analysis

In densely packed, homogeneous samples, a wedge can be analyzed separately from the sample, and results extrapolated automatically. This is another time-saver that responds to the needs of researchers and technicians who use the WITec product.

  • Precise Sample Characterization

ParticleScout works with WITec’s TrueMatch Raman database to match spectral data from samples with particles in the database. The latest version of ParticleScout is updated to enable components in mixed spectra to be identified.

Combined with further optimization of its hit quality index (HQI) calculation, which reduces noise and removes substrate spectra automatically, ParticleScout boasts world-leading sample characterization abilities.

  • Data Presentation

Finally, the latest version of the software application can now be used to automatically create reports and presentations with custom tables, bar graph histograms, or pie charts to communicate data clearly and effectively.

Particle Analysis Solutions for Today

Automated particle analysis technology has applications in a vast number of fields. The ParticleScout system will be used in industries as diverse as environmental science, food technology, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, geosciences, and industry and manufacturing.

The enhancements it boasts means that users in these industries can make faster particle investigations with a more versatile set of operational parameters and with more automated processes taking control.

References and Further Reading

WITec (2021) WITec ParticleScout Enhanced With New Features. WITec. [Online] https://www.witec.de/resources-and-education/news/post/2021/02/309

Opilik, L., Schmid, T., and Zenobi, R. (2019) Modern Raman Imaging: Vibrational Spectroscopy on the Micrometer and Nanometer Scales. Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry. Annual Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anchem-062012-092646

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Ben Pilkington, MSt.

Written by

Ben Pilkington, MSt.

Ben Pilkington is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader with a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Oxford. He is committed to clear and engaging written communication and enjoys telling complex, technical stories in a relevant and understandable way.

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