In this interview, Damon Lenski of Avantes BV, talks to AZoM about recent projects that are using Avantes spectrometers, and Avantes’ plans for the future.
What were the highlights of 2017 for Avantes?
2017 was an exciting and high growth year for Avantes worldwide and particularly in North America. On the product side we introduced our top of the line UV VIS instrument the AvaSpec HERO and enhanced our NIRline of near infrared spectrometers with a 512 pixel 2.5 instrument which is capable of measuring the full range from 1000-2500 nm with resolution around 12 nm (FWHM). We were honoured to participate in a solar measurement project in conjunction with the National Center for Atmospheric research on the day of the US solar eclipse, August 21st at Casper Mountain Wyoming.
A new edition to the Avantes family this year is the AvaSpec-NIR512-1.7-EVO. Which industry do you think will benefit most from this spectrometer?
We expect there to be quite some interest for this instrument within the coating industry for thin film metrology, as well as in the agricultural markets for dairy and grain measurements.
Can you please explain to our readers the advantages of the AvaSpec-NIR512-1.7-EVO compared to anything else on the market?
The AvaSpec-NIR512-1.7-EVO is uniquely qualified for high sensitivity near infrared applications due to its fast numerical aperture (0.24) and powerful focusing optics. These attributes allow the instrument to sample at very high speeds which support spectral averaging which in turn improves signal to noise. The instrument is also equipped with our best in class EVO electronics board which provides for USB3.0 or gigabit ethernet communication options as well as RS232. The Evo electronics board has an on board Zynq processor which provides for on board averaging and the possibility for on board data processing. The board also has a large RAM buffer to provide for high speed burst measurements at speeds up to 1 KHz.
This year also promises to see great advances in the computer technology. How do Avantes’ spectrometers assist industries involved with these technological advances, for example the semiconductor industry?
Avantes is well prepared for these advances and this in part is the reason for the migration to USB3 communication on the EVO. Additionally, Avantes has a Linux API which supports the move to low cost Android computing platforms which are ideal for handheld instruments and interfaces.
Avantes’ mission statement states that you wish to improve the lives of people and the environment they live in. How has NASA’s development of the Pandora System shaped Avantes’ year from an environmental perspective?
For years Avantes has been supplying spectrometers to NASA and its affiliates for the Pandora System which is a program which deploys terrestrial monitoring stations around the world for real time aerosol monitoring. These unique instruments measure a total column profile of the atmosphere and this is useful information for climate change research.
What are the key features of the Avaspec-ULS2048x64 that made it so desirable for NASA to base their Pandora System on it?
The AvaSpec-ULS2048X64 is a high sensitivity spectrometer which also provides for exceptional signal to noise and spectral resolution. The instrument features a 2 dimensional pixel array which we vertically bin to collect the maximum photons at each wavelength interval. The AvaSpec-ULS2048X64 also provides for exceptional thermal and mechanical stability making it suitable for field deployment in the Pandora system.
Avantes also has a keen focus on environmental issues. What were the results of Avantes’ Eclipse Team last year?
The U.S. Office is in a great location in the Denver area, at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The Denver/ Boulder area is home to several of the United States’ top flight scientific agencies including the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Colorado at Boulder which has a well-respected Aerospace Engineering school. It gave us the opportunity to reach out directly to the scientific community and partner with a team of scientists with a desire to study the Eclipse phenomena and enable their research by granting a loan of several instruments that would allow them to capture data directly that otherwise would not have been possible.
Image Credits: Avantes BV
This team, headed by Dr. Steve Tomczyk, section head of the High-Altitude Observatory (HAO) at NCAR, studies the magnetic fields of the sun. They were very successful in collecting data and report that the scientific community is buzzing in anticipation of the release of their findings. To date, the NCAR team presented preliminary results at the American Geophysical Union AGU Fall Meeting December 12, 2017, but the final research is not yet published.
How did they achieve these results, and what equipment did they use to assist them?
In one experiment, the HAO team used the new AvaSpec-NIR512-2.5-HSC-EVO to capture the NIR spectra from the entire corona out to 10 solar radii. In another, dual channels collected NIR (AvaSpec-NIR256-1.7-USB2) and Visible (AvaSpec-ULS2048CL-USB2) spectra from paired telescopes to take spectra of the layers of the sun’s chromospere- the area between the photoshpere and the corona. By taking measurements in rapid succession every 8 milliseconds, and calculating this against the rate of the moon’s passage, the data is expected to provide something like a topographical map of the chromosphere layers.
How are these pieces of machinery preferable than anything available to other environmental scientists?
The AvaSpec-NIR512-2.5-HSC-EVO is Avantes’ cutting edge offering for NIR Instruments to 2500 nm, pairing top of the line, high-sensitivity detectors, with our next generation low-noise electronics. It is TEC Cooled, InGaAs array with 1800:1 signal to noise. The dual gain settings allow the user to choose a low-noise setting for longer integration times or the High-sensitivity setting for low light applications. Due to the availability of the new NIR units, to arrange for the loan this equipment to the NCAR-HAO team, the US office needed to arrange for the Netherlands to send their Demo unit. There simply was not any in stock in the US. This instrument is in high demand. It is TEC Cooled, InGaAs array with 1800:1 signal to noise. The dual gain settings allow the user to choose a low-noise setting for longer integration times or the high-sensitivity setting for low light applications.
What else can we expect from Avantes this year?
Avantes has reintroduced our Avaspec-Mini with a great many configuration options to improve sensitivity and we have redesigned our robotic manufacturing process such that this instrument can now be manufactured with exceptional inter-instrument uniformity. We will also be adding new configuration for our NIRline of instruments as well as some new high speed detectors. We have lots in store for 2018!
Where can our readers find out more about Avantes?
Visiting our website at www.avantes.com, interested researchers and engineers can find the latest on our innovations and solutions for spectroscopy.
About Damon Lenski
Damon Lenski is the General Manager of Avantes North America where he has worked for the past 12 years in various capacities. Mr. Lenski has a background in geochemical sciences and holds a Masters of Business Administration. He worked in the consumer electronics and semiconductor industries for years prior to joining Avantes. During his tenure at Avantes, he has worked with hundreds of applications of spectroscopy spanning numerous industries.
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