The Heat is On

Last year, the thought of an enjoyable and active summer was just a dream for so many of us. This summer, with vaccination rates on the rise and restrictions on socializing, community activities and travel lifted, those dreams began to come true. We hope you were able to realize at least some of your summer dreams this year and stayed safe while doing so.


Although summer is on its way out in the northern hemisphere, fortunately this only applies to the weather. As in the song "The Heat is On", written by Harold Faltermeyer and Keith Forsey, and released as soundtrack to the motion picture film “Beverly Hills Cop” (1984), the heat is still on, though not necessarily “on the street”, but on the metals industry.


Very Hot Metal


Steel prices are spiking worldwide, and iron ore prices are rising as a global economy recovery drives up demand. Sectors such as manufacturing and construction are running at full speed, and governments have committed to invest in infrastructure to find their way back to post-pandemic growth. That is a boon for steelmakers, who are suddenly enjoying healthy profit margins – and optimism – after a miserable 2020. Steelmakers' furnaces will certainly continue to run at maximum capacity, as the global upturn triggers a strong wave of buying that cannot be absorbed by production. Nevertheless, the steel and metal industry, like other raw material producers, are facing enormous challenges to reduce its carbon footprint, or even to reach a net-zero production, within a reasonable timeframe.


High-quality steel is a driver of innovation and an indispensable material for numerous sectors – including those relevant to successful climate change. Therefore, the ambitious goal must be achieved without compromising on quality and steel grades. One key success factor for metal manufacturers and foundries of all sizes is a complete elemental analysis solution. Bruker AXS is committed to supporting the metals industry by supplying state-of-the art metal analyzers. With spark-optical emission spectrometry as the accepted workhorse for all metal analysis tasks, we are pleased to present – today – the latest addition to our line of spark spectrometers.


Q4 POLO – The Little Giant in Metals Analysis


The new Q4 POLO is a compact Spark Optical Emission Spectrometer (OES) with superior analytical performance for a multitude of applications across the metals industry, combining high-precision analysis capabilities with low cost of ownership and small footprint. The Q4 POLO combines multiple innovations to reach performance levels not achieved before in compact metal analyzers, like:


  • Outstanding precision, particularly on light elements
  • Excellent results in the challenging analysis of cast iron
  • Reliable analysis of nitrogen at low ppm levels in low alloyed steels
  • Analysis of oxygen in copper


Just as impressive as the results achieved by the Q4 POLO is its incredible long-term stability. The absence of thermal- and contamination-based drifts reduces the need for cleaning and recalibrations, leading to stable results around the clock. Reliable, high-precision analysis is now available for every foundry and production floor. With its unique features, the Q4 POLO will help users to obtain results faster, easier, and more cost-effectively than ever before.


Further information:


Quantification of Steels and Alloys – Dual Source Multidetector SEM System

The Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) is a powerful tool for investigating numerous materials. Now it is possible to augment these capabilities by creating a dual source (electron and X-ray sources) multidetector (EDS and WDS) SEM. This allows the quantification of a large range of elements on the micrometer scale utilizing the benefits and capabilities of each component on the SEM to yield an accurate and precise result down to the ppm level. Such benefits include the sub-micrometer resolution of an electron beam, the trace element quantification and high energy spectral lines from X-ray excitation, and the light element detection and high spectral resolution of the WDS. In addition, given the flexibility of the various systems, it is possible to analyze a variety of sample types. Thus a standard SEM becomes a state-of-the-art analytical tool.


Revealing Reactions

Tackling the global challenges of energy generation and storage require some of today’s most complex materials developments. Read on to find out how X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) sheds light on the workings of energy storage materials.


The performance of any battery, whether in terms of its capacity, lifetime of energy density, is ultimately down to the intrinsic properties of its anode, cathode and electrolyte. X-ray powder diffraction is ideally suited to investigate the structure of novel battery materials, which are typically produced in powder form. For these active compounds, the lattice parameters and details of their crystal structure can be determined through Rietveld refinements, along with information of the crystallite size which is related to the reactivity of a compound.


In-situ XRD experiments are a convenient way to map the phase diagram of a battery with respect to its charge state, and to correlate the different phases with the measured voltage profile. For this, a specialized battery cell for in-situ XRD is used that allows to probe the cathode (or anode) without disassembling the cell. Compared to ex-situ measurement, this avoids relaxation of metastable phases as well as degradation and contamination of the active material. In-situ measurements also significantly increase the speed at which phase-diagrams can be established, as the same sample can be used to explore multiple charge states.


One important question in battery research concerns the reaction mechanism of the intercalation of Li-ions in the active compound. To study electrochemical processes “live”, the battery cell is connected to a potentiostat, which drives the charge-discharge of the cell during the XRD experiment. Using in-operando measurements, researchers can follow the emergence of new phases at different charge states and determine whether a reaction takes places as an intercalation in a solid-solution (single-phase) or via multiple intermediated phases. In addition to a fundamental understanding of the cathode (or anode) material, in-operando XRD/electrochemistry experiments can also rapidly identify critical voltage limits for phase-transitions with detrimental impact on the cell’s capacity.


Join us for our free online battery event on October 7th to learn more about Bruker’s XRD and XRM solutions for battery research.


XRM for Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices

Bruker XRM solutions are used across the globe for the inspection of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. From API distribution and tablet coating analysis to inspection of complex devices such as inhalers and implants, Bruker solutions help to ensure positive patient outcomes. For more information on XRM for pharmaceuticals and medical devices, download our new brochure and watch our new video.



E-MRS 2021 Fall
Sep 20 - 23

Francophone Bruker Days on XRD and XRF
Sep 21 & 23, in French, Online

An Inside Look at Pharma and Medical Devices
Sep 23, Online


Sep 26 - Oct 1
Denver, CO, USA & Online


Crystal Growing Competition
Chemical Institute of Canada

Oct 8 - Nov 15

AAPS 2021 PharmSci 360
Oct 17-20
Philadelphia, PA, USA & Online




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