Direct Ion Detection & Detector Technology Development

Direct Ion Detection & Detector Technology Development

Our VIRP chamber (for rapid vacuum instrument prototyping), is designed to perform experiments with new detector technologies, and provide a route to optimising the methodologies and technologies. Early work has been based around novel scintillators recently developed in Oxford [1,2], and also involved trialling the PImMS camera (for 3D ion imaging) for ultrafast pump-probe experiments [3] – see our blog for further information. New project work will continue to build in these directions.

[1] A new detector for mass spectrometry: Direct detection of low energy ions using a multi-pixel photon counter
Edward S. Wilman, Sara H. Gardiner, Andrei Nomerotski, Renato Turchetta, Mark Brouard and Claire Vallance
Rev. Sci. Instrum. 83, 013304 (2012).

[2] Improved direct detection of low-energy ions using a multipixel photon counter coupled with a novel scintillator
Winter, King, Brouard & Vallance
International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 397–398, 27–31 (2016)

[3] Time-resolved multi-mass ion imaging: femtosecond UV-VUV pump-probe spectroscopy with the PImMS camera
Ruaridh ForbesVarun MakhijaKévin VeyrinasAlbert StolowJason W. L. LeeMichael BurtMark BrouardClaire VallanceIain WilkinsonRune LaustenPaul Hockett
arXiv 1702.00744 (2017)The Journal of Chemical Physics 147, 013911 (2017), DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4978923

 

 

Augmented and Virtual Reality for Data Visualization & Research Applications

Augmented and Virtual Reality for Data Visualization & Research Applications

Recent developments in AR & VR hardware have resulted in a range of nascent commercial products, e.g. the Microsoft Hololens and DAQRI smart helmet (augmented reality), Occulus Rift and HTC Vive (virtual reality).  Laboratory use is an obvious application of current tether-free AR technology, which could enable new experimental methodologies as well as offer basic procedural, efficiency, training and health and safety benefits.  VR technology, which typically requires tethering to a high-performance PC, provides a complementary platform, more suited to fully immersive computational uses such as multi-dimensional data visualization and big data applications.

Early work with the Hololens, investigating 3D visualization and basic lab usage, has already begun in the group; this project would further work to explore and develop these capabilities.

Press Release: The Inner Lives of Molecules

Press Release: The Inner Lives of Molecules

Our latest work with the PImMS camera, femtosecond VUV pulses, and velocity-map imaging, has been picked up for a press release by AIP.

The Inner Lives of Molecules

New method takes 3-D images of molecules in action

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 4, 2017 — Quantum mechanics rules. It dictates how particles and forces interact, and thus how atoms and molecules work — for example, what happens when a molecule goes from a higher-energy state to a lower-energy one. But beyond the simplest molecules, the details become very complex.

“Quantum mechanics describes how all this stuff works,” said Paul Hockett of the National Research Council of Canada. “But as soon as you go beyond the two-body problem, you can’t solve the equations.” So, physicists must rely on computer simulations and experiments.

Now, he and an international team of researchers from Canada, the U.K. and Germany have developed a new experimental technique to take 3-D images of molecules in action. This tool, he said, can help scientists better understand the quantum mechanics underlying bigger and more complex molecules.

The new method, described in The Journal of Chemical Physics, from AIP Publishing, combines two technologies. The first is a camera developed at Oxford University, called the Pixel-Imaging Mass Spectrometry (PImMS) camera. The second is a femtosecond vacuum ultraviolet light source built at the NRC femtolabs in Ottawa.

Mass spectrometry is a method used to identify unknown compounds and to probe the structure of molecules. In most types of mass spectrometry, a molecule is fragmented into atoms and smaller molecules that are then separated by molecular weight. In time-of-flight mass spectrometry, for example, an electric field accelerates the fragmented molecule. The speed of those fragments depends on their mass and charge, so to weigh them, you measure how long it takes for them to hit the detector.

Most conventional imaging detectors, however, can’t discern exactly when one particular particle hits. To measure timing, researchers must use methods that effectively act as shutters, which let particles through over a short time period. Knowing when the shutter is open gives the time-of-flight information. But this method can only measure particles of the same mass, corresponding to the short time the shutter is open.

The PImMS camera, on the other hand, can measure particles of multiple masses all at once. Each pixel of the camera’s detector can time when a particle strikes it. That timing information produces a three-dimensional map of the particles’ velocities, providing a detailed 3-D image of the fragmentation pattern of the molecule.

To probe molecules, the researchers used this camera with a femtosecond vacuum ultraviolet laser. A laser pulse excites the molecule into a higher-energy state, and just as the molecule starts its quantum mechanical evolution — after a few dozen femtoseconds –another pulse is fired. The molecule absorbs a single photon, a process that causes it to fall apart. The PImMS camera then snaps a 3-D picture of the molecular debris.

By firing a laser pulse at later and later times at excited molecules, the researchers can use the PImMS camera to take snapshots of molecules at various stages while they fall into lower energy states. The result is a series of 3-D blow-by-blow images of a molecule changing states.

The researchers tested their approach on a molecule called C2F3I. Although a relatively small molecule, it fragmented into five different products in their experiments. The data and analysis software is available online as part of an open science initiative, and although the results are preliminary, Hockett said, the experiments demonstrate the power of this technique.

“It’s effectively an enabling technology to actually do these types of experiments at all,” Hockett said. It only takes a few hours to collect the kind of data that would take a few days using conventional methods, allowing for experiments with larger molecules that were previously impossible.

Then researchers can better answer questions like: How does quantum mechanics work in larger, more complex systems? How do excited molecules behave and how do they evolve?

“People have been trying to understand these things since the 1920s,” Hockett said. “It’s still a very open field of investigation, research, and debate because molecules are really complicated. We have to keep trying to understand them.”

Text reproduced from AIP.

The article, Time-resolved multi-mass ion imaging: femtosecond UV-VUV pump-probe spectroscopy with the PImMS camera, is now published in the Journal of Chemical Physics, and also available via the arXiv 1702.00744 and Authorea (original text), DOI: 10.22541/au.149030711.19068540.

The full dataset and analysis scripts are available via OSF, DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/RRFK3.

VIRP chamber spectrometer v2.0

VIRP chamber spectrometer v2.0

A little more progress for our Direct Ion Detection project: the images above and below show some developments of our VIRP chamber (for rapid vacuum instrument prototyping), showing v2.0 of the charged particle spectrometer stack (following a rebuild) with some of the in vacuo wiring attached.  Time-lapse build footage to follow!  This configuration will allow us to perform experiments with direct ion detection, and optimise the methodologies and technologies.

Update: time-lapse build footage is now online.

For further background details, see:
A new detector for mass spectrometry: Direct detection of low energy ions using a multi-pixel photon counter
Edward S. Wilman, Sara H. Gardiner, Andrei Nomerotski, Renato Turchetta, Mark Brouard and Claire Vallance
Rev. Sci. Instrum. 83, 013304 (2012).

Improved direct detection of low-energy ions using a multipixel photon counter coupled with a novel scintillator
Winter, King, Brouard & Vallance
International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 397–398, 27–31 (2016)

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Scientific imaging with the Lytro lightfield camera

Scientific imaging with the Lytro lightfield camera

The Lytro digital camera introduces a Shack-Hartmann configuration into a digital SLR camera.  Why?  For “lightfield” (wavefront) imaging, allowing for depth information in the captured data.  While this kind of thing has long been used for scientific instruments, in particular for laser beam measurements, the Lytro camera brings this capability (and the not insignificant post-processing know-how and hardware required) to photography in the visible.  For rather more detailed information, check out the PhD thesis of Ren Ng, the founder of Lytro.

Here’s a demo image of our VIRP chamber, note that mousing around the image and clicking allows one to change the focus of the image, and the imaging plane.  Mouse wheel to zoom.  It’s going to be an excellent tool for scientific imaging!

* Banner image from Lytro.com.

MPPC test set-up

MPPC test set-up

Some progress for our Direct Ion Detection project: the image above shows the beginnings of a test set-up based around a Hamamatsu MPPC chip, which will be coupled to a scintillator coating to form a complete “direct” ion detection system.  This will then be combined with our VIRP chamber (for rapid vacuum instrument prototyping), allowing us to perform experiments with direct ion detection, and optimise the methodologies and technologies. This is a more refined version of the crude test set-up from a couple of weeks ago!

For further backgournd details, see:
A new detector for mass spectrometry: Direct detection of low energy ions using a multi-pixel photon counter
Edward S. Wilman, Sara H. Gardiner, Andrei Nomerotski, Renato Turchetta, Mark Brouard and Claire Vallance
Rev. Sci. Instrum. 83, 013304 (2012).

Improved direct detection of low-energy ions using a multipixel photon counter coupled with a novel scintillator
Winter, King, Brouard & Vallance
International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 397–398, 27–31 (2016)

MPPC chips & scintillator coatings

MPPC chips & scintillator coatings

A few images of the in progress testing work for the direct ion detection project.  The images show scintillator coatings, made using the laser dye Exalite 389, and a Hamamatsu MPPC chip to form a complete ion detection system.

 

For further background details, see:
A new detector for mass spectrometry: Direct detection of low energy ions using a multi-pixel photon counter
Edward S. Wilman, Sara H. Gardiner, Andrei Nomerotski, Renato Turchetta, Mark Brouard and Claire Vallance
Rev. Sci. Instrum. 83, 013304 (2012).

Improved direct detection of low-energy ions using a multipixel photon counter coupled with a novel scintillator
Winter, King, Brouard & Vallance
International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 397–398, 27–31 (2016)

PImMS camera with VUV light

PImMS camera with VUV light

UPDATE April 2017 – Some of this work is now published, and data is also available, see Time-resolved multi-mass ion imaging: femtosecond UV-VUV pump-probe spectroscopy with the PImMS camera for details.

Last week was a busy week, with Prof. Claire Vallance (and two colleagues) visiting to help with technology transfer for our Direct Ion Detection project, based on their previous work in this area. As well as preparing some scintillator coatings, we also had the opportunity to try out another flavour of the new detector technologies they’ve been developing, in the form of the time-resolved PImMS camera. The goal for future detector development is to combine these technologies for a single, on-chip, ion detection solution.

The images below show the camera attached to our velocity-map imaging (VMI) chamber and VUV source.