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Shimadzu’s new AIMsight infrared microscope automates analysis of micro contaminants

Shimadzu has released the AIMsight infrared microscope. AIMsight builds on the high sensitivity of Shimadzu’s well-known AIM-9000 to offer an improved operational experience through greater automation. AIMsight is intended for industrial applications, such as drug manufacturing.

AIMsight is used by connecting it to a Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectro-photometer to measure micro-regions using the reflection and transmission of infrared light that cannot be measured by FTIR units alone. The main applications of this are in the analysis and identification of micro-contaminants, such as those adhering to pharmaceutical pills, dirt on electronic circuit boards and microplastics.

In 2016, Shimadzu introduced the AIM-9000, an infrared microscope equipped with excellent sensitivity and an automatic contaminant analysis function. Since then, the demand for measurements using infra-red microscopes has grown rapidly. At the same time – and partly as a result of this – the lack of analysts with experience in such measurements has also grown. The result is that there is now a very strong demand for highly sensitive instruments that are automated to provide quick, easy and trouble-free measurements of smaller targets. That’s where AIMsight comes in. AIMsight meets that demand. It easily – and, importantly, automatically – measures micro-targets by irradiating them with infrared rays and then investigates the reflectance and transmittance. It features easy determination of the measurement range via a wide-field camera as well as by automatic identification of measurement targets, automatic setting of measurement positions and automatic analysis via a contaminant analysis program.

Environmental concerns have also increased since 2016. To address those concerns, the AIMsight infrared microscope uses the new T2SL (type-II super-lattice) detector. The T2SL does not use mercury or cadmium, which are restricted under the European Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive for electronic and electrical equipment. The T2SL detector, a so-called quantum infrared detector, has been gaining favourable attention as a high-sensitivity, next-generation infrared sensor.

Shimadzu AIMsight

Additional AIMsight advantages

Faster searches for measurement sites
AIMsight is equipped with two optical systems. Shimadzu’s proprietary wide-field camera is not only capable of observations up to 10 × 13 mm in size, it also supports variable digital zooming up to a factor of 330 to a visual field as small as 30 × 40 µm. The two optical systems share position information, so the observation target being tracked is never lost. AIMsight includes a 330× digital zoom function, and micro-measurement targets are quickly found from the wide-field observations. For inexperienced users, a function is provided that easily identifies the measurement target with a simple click on the image in the AMsolution control software and which automatically sets the optimal measurement position in just one second.

Highest sensitivity for micro-measurements
AIMsight provides the highest sensitivity in its class, with a signal-to-noise ratio (S/N ratio) of 30,000:1. High-sensitivity data is quickly acquired even for micro-measurement targets as small as 10 µm. In addition, the length of targets can be measured by selecting the start and end points in the image. A function is included to measure the diameter of microplastic particles.

Automatic contaminant analysis program
After the data is acquired, it can be analyzed automatically by a contaminant analysis program provided as standard with the LabSolutions IR FTIR control software. The contaminant database, which uses a proprietary Shimadzu algorithm, provides high-accuracy analysis results. Qualitative results can be obtained in seconds, with no additional work required by the analyst. Additionally, qualitative accuracy can be heightened by combining the program with Shimadzu’s own databases: the Contaminant Library, the Thermally Degraded Plastics Library and the UV-Degraded Plastics Library.

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