Determination of pharmaceutical compounds using an ASI detector

The group from Prof. Dr. J.P. Abrahams from Leiden University published their research on the determination of organic pharmaceutical compounds using a Timepix quantum area detector developed by ASI. This study has been noted in the research news of International Union of Crystallography on the 26th of February. The following message is adapted from their news item:

Model of ASI detector in an Electron Microscope detector

Model of ASI camera in an electron microscope

Reliable information about the structure of pharmaceutical compounds is important for patient safety, for the development of related drugs and for patenting purposes. However, working out the structures of pharmaceuticals can be tough. The individual molecules can pack together in the solid in different ways to form different polymorphs, and pertinent properties such as stability, bioavailability or how fast they dissolve in the stomach can vary from one polymorph to another. Single crystals (as used in standard X-ray diffraction experiments) therefore might not be representative of the bulk sample, or indeed might not even be available.

Moreover, the compounds themselves can be damaged by the high energy of the X-radiation used. As electrons are less damaging than X-rays by several orders of magnitude, using electron diffraction should be an attractive alternative, particularly when only nanometre-sized crystals are available. Cooling the sample to liquid-nitrogen temperatures (‘cryo-cooling’) can also help to minimize radiation damage, but the compound might change structure on cooling, so the structure that is obtained is not actually that of the material as taken by the patient at room temperature.

A group of scientists from a number of European countries have tackled all aspects of these problems by using low-dose electron diffraction, rotating the sample so that individual nanocrystals are not in the electron beam long enough to be damaged and collecting the diffraction data using a new type of detector developed by CERN [van Genderen et al. (2016), Acta Cryst. A72, doi:10.1107/S2053273315022500]. This new detector combines a high dynamic range with a very high signal-to-noise ratio and sensitivity to single electrons. Radiation damage was reduced so much that cooling the sample was not found to be necessary, allowing the team to study the anticonvulsant drug carbamazepine and nicotinic acid (vitamin B3) at room temperature. The data they collected were high enough quality that they could solve the structures of the two compounds using direct methods and software developed for X-ray crystallography.

Based on their experience with these case studies, the authors are planning to improve the design of their experimental setup further, and will also be developing programs specifically designed for handling electron-diffraction data.

ASI is a new partner of the ATTRACT initiative

ASI is a new partner in the ATTRACT project which is a new, open, pan-EU initiative to accelerate the development of these specialist detector and imaging technologies for market – through a process of co-innovation with other labs, SMEs, industry and universities. The aim: to work with scientists, students, entrepreneurs and investors to invent new services and products, and attract new investment to the sector. A pilot effort is already underway at CERN’s Geneva campus, with the aid of Aalto, the leading Finnish university with a world-class reputation for design innovation and management. And at international business school ESADE in Barcelona, Professor Henry Chesbrough – the man who first coined the term ‘open innovation’- is developing a new framework for scaling up this kind of collaboration at scientific establishments.

Seed money would come from the European Union to get the labs, companies and entrepreneurs working together – through an independently managed programme office. After a pilot phase, ATTRACT will grow, working to enlist private and other funding sources with the capital and expertise necessary to bring these new technologies to market more quickly.


  • ATTRACT can deliver breakthrough technologies for global markets. The expertise and inventions at its biggest labs are an unparalleled resource – but need an ecosystem around them for investment, entrepreneurship and innovation. ATTRACT creates a necessary framework for this difficult, high-specification technology to move out of the lab and into the market.
  • ATTRACT can get more value from Europe’s science base. The EU and its member-states have a deep, long-standing investment in these high-end labs. This has already paid off scientifically, but ATTRACT can multiply the returns in new, economic ways.
  • ATTRACT can help strengthen European institutions. ATTRACT partner labs spread across the EU. Working together with local companies and investors, they can create a new, economically powerful ecosystem from north to south, west to east.
  • ATTRACT can engage many more citizens in science and technology – as entrepreneurs, customers, or students. It can strengthen Europe’s talent base.

Please see the ATTRACT overview here.

Medipix 3 now available

From now on we are able to deliver our products with the newest readout chips: Medipix 3. It acts the same as previous version, but aims to go much further with its colour imaging and dead time free operation. The Medipix3 pixel readout architecture seeks to mitigate the effect of charge sharing by summing charge between neighbouring pixels and allocating the sum or hit to the individual pixel with the highest collected charge. This led to a higher accuracy compared to the previous version. Moreover, by using a more advanced CMOS technology, it became possible to integrate two counters on a single small pixel, permitting one image to be taken while the previous one is being read out.

For more information about our products with the new Medipix 3 chips, please contact us.

Image of a wild bee with Medipix 3. By courtesy of Simon Procz, University of Freiburg

Image of a wild bee with Medipix 3. By courtesy of Simon Procz, University of Freiburg

First K2K event

In the week from 6th till 9th of October, ASI invited several researchers for our first K2K event where the main purpose was to connect scientists from South Korea and The Netherlands that are active in the field of Single Quantum Optics and Mass Spectrometry Imaging. The aim was to stimulate the exchange of knowledge and experience between South Korean and Dutch knowledge institutions and industries to support and build sustainable commitments and relationships.

The programme included several educational field trips to (e.g.) TU Delft & M4I at Maastricht University. Here, the researchers gained the chance to see how the Dutch execute their research.

Visit at M4I, Maastricht University.

Visit at M4I, Maastricht University.

In May 2016, the next K2K event will be held in South-Korea. Dutch researcher will have the opportunity to learn from their research.

Harry van der Graaf appointed professor at TU Delft

ASI CEO Hans Roeland Poolman and intern Marc de Beurs congratulate Proffessor van der Graaf with his new position

ASI CEO Hans Roeland Poolman and intern Marc de Beurs congratulate Proffessor van der Graaf with his new position

We are glad to announce that Nikhef-researcher Harry van der Graaf (Detector R&D) has been appointed Professor of Radiation Chemistry at the Neutron and Positron Methods in Materials (NPM2) group of the Reactor Instituut Delft (RID) of the faculty of Applied Sciences at TU-Delft.

Van der Graaf graduated at RID in 1979 and did his PhD at the same institute in 1986. Since 2007, he has been teaching the Instrumentation of particle physics experiments class in Delft.

During the upcomping period, van der Graaf wants to focus on  ‘new MEMS-made pixel sensors for elementary particles’. Van der Graaf: “Pushed forward by the Law of Moore, we are facing a bright future with regards to pixelchips. With MEMS-technology, we will develop the next generation particle detectors, based on those pixelchips. What is not achieved today, will be achieved tomorrow, and if not then, it will be achieved the day after tomorrow.”


Nikhef-onderzoeker Harry van der Graaf (Detector R&D) is per 15 juli 2014 benoemd tot deeltijd hoogleraar Stralingstechnologie bij de groep Neutron and Positron Methods in Materials(NPM2) van het Reactor Instituut Delft (RID) van de faculteit Applied Sciences van de TU-Delft.

Van der Graaf studeerde in 1979 af bij RID en promoveerde daar ook in 1986. Sinds 2007 geeft hij in Delft college in Instrumentation of particle physics experiments. Hij ontving in 2012 de prestigieuze ERC Advanced Grant.

De komende tijd wil van der Graaf zich toeleggen op ‘new MEMS-made pixel sensors for elementary particles’. Van der Graaf: “Met de wind van de Wet van Moore in de rug gaan we goede tijden tegemoet wat betreft pixelchips. Met MEMS-technologie gaan we een nieuwe generatie deeltjesdetectoren bouwen, gebaseerd op die pixelchips. Daarvoor geldt: wat vandaag niet kan lukt morgen wel, en anders overmorgen.”

Bron: Nikhef