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Interview: Craig Prater and Dean Dawson, Anasys Instruments

Hello Craig, could you tell us how Anasys Instruments started and how it's developed over the past few years?

Anasys Instruments was founded in 2005 with the vision of providing instrumentation for the characterization of material properties at the nanoscale. Our first products were based on nanoscale thermal analysis, i.e. measuring thermal properties of materials with nanometer level spatial resolution. In subsequent years, we pioneered new techniques for performing chemical analysis at the nanoscale with a novel combination of atomic force microscopy and infrared spectroscopy. We have also developed techniques and instruments that provide nanoscale mechanical spectroscopy and nanoscale optical measurements. Together these capabilities provide the ability to perform extensive correlative measurements of sample morphology, chemical, optical mechanical and thermal properties.

You first encountered Zurich Instruments back in 2011 and started using our lock-ins a couple of years later. What were the features that made you choose, initially, the HF2LI and how did they help with the development of your technology and products?

I first encountered Zurich products shortly after purchasing a legacy lock-in from another company. I was immediately filled with buyer's remorse [laughs] because it was clear that the Zurich Instruments lock-in could do so much more than the legacy lock-ins I was familiar with. I was especially taken by how flexible the Zurich Instruments products were. I loved that I could easily reconfigure the lock-in to perform different measurements based on my needs. We used Zurich Instruments lock-ins extensively in our development and prototyping to test new ideas.

When you made the decision to incorporate the MFLI into the nanoIR2-s, one of the key issues was the integration of the instrument into your own software. How do you think this went and how would you assess the support that you had from Zurich Instruments during the process?

We love the Zurich Instruments software interface. Anasys Instruments has completely integrated the Zurich core functionality into our own software so that our users can select any lock-in data channel whether it's to perform imaging, spectroscopy, etc. Zurich Instruments has been superb in providing integration support and training when we needed help. We have worked with many, many third party software interfaces and we have found LabOne to be the one we like the best. It is powerful, flexible, stable and very well supported.

Dean, how is the Tapping AFM-IR™ capability being received in the marketplace?

Our nanoIR™ technology breaks the optical diffraction limit with its patent pending photothermal AFM-IR technique and has already seen strong adoption with academic researchers and industrial users. Anasys' new Tapping AFM-IR™ has enabled us to dramatically improve the capabilities for nanoscale IR spectroscopy achieving, for the first time, 10nm spatial resolution for chemical imaging. The new mode also enables nanoIR™ products to be used on a broader range of materials and opens up many new applications areas such as adhesives, rubber compounds and many other soft matter materials. We have seen a surge of interest from researchers and industrial users interested in this new level of chemical imaging resolution.

Part of the appeal of the AFM-IR technology is that it can be added to your instruments that are already out there in the field. That very much matches Zurich Instruments' approach to offering products that can be adapted to a user's ongoing needs.

We have already delivered Tapping AFM-IR™ to a number of our existing customers. Using the Zurich Instruments products has enabled a modular approach to upgradeability and for the upgrade to be undertaken quickly and easily in the field. Updating our customer installed Zurich Instruments modules in the field was also fast and easy. This has resulted in our customers quickly adopting the new capabilities to help support new scientific research or, for our industrial customers, solve more sophisticated problems.

So what can we expect from Anasys Instruments in the rest of 2017 and going into next year?

We continue to launch exciting new product capabilities for our nanoIR™ spectroscopy products that extend our performance leadership, measurement speed, imaging resolution and broadband spectroscopy. We are excited to have Zurich Instruments as our partner in this endeavor.

Thanks for speaking to us. We look forward to working together on your future developments.

Craig Prater and Dean Dawson

Craig Prater (left), CTO & Co-founder;
Dean Dawson (right), VP Marketing & Business Development

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