Protochips creates the world's most advanced holders, stages and specimen supports for electron microscopy, and semiconductor technology is at the core of what we do. Because we leverage the tools and techniques of semiconductor manufacturing, novel capabilities are integrated into all of the products we develop and manufacture. As a result, our products enable the highest resolution of nanostructures in their native environments and have proven themselves to be of enormous value in both Life Science and Materials Science applications all the way from R&D through product Q/A.
Our product lines include:
- Aduro— Revolutionary MEMS-based holders and stages for electron microscopes that enable in situ analysis at temperatures up to 1200 deg C with atomic resolution.
- Poseidon— Revolutionary TEM holder for electron microscopes that enables in situ electron microscopy of samples directly within a liquid environment.
- C-flat— The premier holey carbon film for cryo-transmission electron microscopy (cryoTEM).
- DuraSiN— The market leading specimen support in materials science applications for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and x-ray microscopy.
- E-chip— E-chip sample supports are consumable devices and replace the conventional TEM grid. The family of E-chips includes consumables that provide support to the Aduro and Poseidon platforms.
Protochips has developed the innovative and patent pending Aduro technology platform based upon semiconductor devices and materials. This technology integrates capabilities such as temperature control and electrical stimulus directly onto the specimen support. The Aduro approach not only enables in situ analysis using an electron microscope, but also allows it to be easy to use, versatile, stable, fast and at the highest resolution possible.
The technology is based upon a family of ultra-thin, robust semiconductor specimen support devices. Unlike traditional heating stages that use large heating elements millimeters away from the specimen, the Aduro specimen support generates heat using a low-stress semiconductor membrane directly beneath the sample. This allows for extremely accurate and well-controlled sample temperature with virtually no drift.
The low thermal mass of the ceramic membrane allows rapid changes to the specimen temperature while imaging. Extremely fast response times are possible - up to 10E6 °C per second and to temperatures exceeding 1200 °C. Because heat is well-localized to the ceramic membrane and CTEs are low and closely matched, drift is minimal and typically settles within seconds.
Poseidon introduces the revolutionary capability of in situ electron microscopy imaging of samples directly within a liquid environment. From biological specimens to materials sciences applications, Poseidon allows the study of materials in their native environments and at the highest resolution possible. Applications including live cells, batteries, catalysts, dispersions, gels and other soft materials are all now possible using our platform system.
Using out E-chip specimen support technology, Poseidon provides an extremely flexible solution for in situ imaging of samples in liquid. Because no two specimens are identical, E-chip can be paired to provide a wide variety of window geometries, liquid volumes, heights, and flow paths. This flexibility allows users to customize experimental conditions on an experiment by experiment basis - without any new hardware.
The Poseidon TEM holder is available in either 2 or 3 port configurations. The 2 port configuration allows a constant flow of liquid across the sample and the 3 port configuration provides a method for introducing and mixing reagents directly at the time. The Poseidon system comes with a TEM holder, a syringe pump for controlling fluid flow, and all required tubing and fittings.
E-chip: Sample Support Technology for Aduro and Poseidon
Aduro E-chip sample supports provide a revolutionary method for thermal and electrical characterization of materials. Designed and manufactured using state-of-the-art semiconductor technologies, the Aduro family of E-chips enable unprecedented performance and ﬂexibility. Aduro E-chip sample supports are consumable devices and replace the conventional TEM grid. The family of E-chips includes consumables that provide thermal, electrical or electro-thermal stimulus to the supported specimen.
The Poseidon E-chip family of sample supports provides an unparalleled level of flexibility for the Poseidon liquid in situ platform. To accommodate the wide variety of samples used in the materials and life sciences, the E-chip platform provides the user with the ability to choose devices on an experiment by experiment basis. Specifications including the liquid layer thickness and viewing window size are completely user definable by the choice of E-chip most appropriate for the sample.
In cryoEM the properties of the specimen support play a crucial role in the quality of data that is collected. In particular, the specimen support must be clean, flat, transparent to the electron beam and provide a stable support for the specimen. Protochips has pioneered semiconductor-based manufacturing technologies to create holey carbon films that are flatter and cleaner than holey carbon films made by other methods while preserving the properties of amorphous carbon that make it an ideal support film for biological specimens. The C-flat product line is based upon this manufacturing process, and the resulting holey carbon films lead to more uniform ice, better particle dispersion in the ice and high quality data from each microscopy session.
DuraSiN: Support Film Technology for Materials Science Electron Microscopy
In materials science research, the ideal specimen support is transparent to the electron beam, inert to the specimens placed directly upon them and robust to withstand specimen preparation techniques such as spin casting, annealing, furnace deposition, solvent dispersion, acid treatment, dry dipping and electrodeposition.
Using semiconductor technology, Protochips has created a family of virtually beam-transparent, inert and robust specimen supports comprised of a silicon frame and a free-standing silicon nitride membrane. These durable, silicon nitride membranes named DuraSiN are available in a variety of sizes and membrane thicknesses so that best specimen support can be found for each application.