With over 40 years of experience in crystallography, 30 of which were dedicated to selling X-ray devices, Eric Hovestreydt does not shy away from questions about how important electron diffraction is for the future of structural elucidation. Today, the CEO of ELDICO Scientific is proud and content that after not quite two years of development, the company’s electron diffractometer has now achieved the proof-of-concept.
ELDICO presented the proof of concept today. The electron diffractometer works and delivers results. Can you describe the experiment and the rationale behind it?
We measured a sample of sodium calcium aluminum fluoride. The experiment is comparable to the well-known single-crystal X-ray experiments: the sample is irradiated (in this case, with electrons – unlike the common X-rays), and diffraction is generated in the form of discrete reflections, which are ultimately registered by a 2D detector. In order to obtain a complete dataset, covering the asymmetric unit in reciprocal space, the sample is continuously rotated and the detector is read out e.g. every 0.2° or 0.3°. For low-symmetry samples, the dataset is completed by the measurement of a second – or sometimes a third – crystal. Sample mounting is also easier, as no gluing is required: some of the nanocrystalline powder is brushed or dispersed onto an EM grid and then transferred to the goniometer inside the electron diffractometer. Data collection and the processing of the frames is carried out with common crystallographic routines. If required, the user can choose dynamic refinement as well.
What is the message to the crystallographic community? To what extent is a dedicated electron diffractometer making a difference?
The structural elucidation of nano-crystalline molecular compounds through electron diffraction poses an effective solution for a major bottleneck in crystallographic research: the difficulties of obtaining large crystals through preparative chemistry – or even their unavailability. ELDICO’s dedicated electron diffractometer ensures the effortless analysis of nano-sized solid compounds in the form of more reliable and qualitative analytical instrumentation. Compared to “retrofitted” transmission electron microscopes (TEMs), which are used today to perform nano-crystallographic investigation, a “dedicated” electron diffractometer — meaning the instrument developed by ELDICO — has the potential to change the way chemical, pharmaceutical and advanced materials research is carried out in the future.
Can users and potential buyers observe the instrument's performance with their own samples?
From my many years of experience in selling sophisticated analytical instrumentation to clients, I am fully aware of the fact that users want to see their samples solved on a new device, even more so as the electron diffractometer is a totally new class of instrumentation. Our device is up and running, so we will be happy to perform analyses on clients’ samples. If the users want to find out more about ELDICO's state-of-the-art analytical nano-instrumentation, they can submit their samples by reaching out to us here.
The investment in an electron diffractometer, even if it is much more cost-effective in terms of operating cost, is quite significant, and a decision to buy needs some preparation. Does ELDICO also offer subscription contracts or other packages?
For our clients who need more time and convincing before they acquire a device, we also offer our services in a subscription model. While industrial users may prefer to reduce CAPEX and opt for a subscription model, academic users tend to buy the hardware. We can serve both. For academic users who have to apply for funding and would rather not wait 12 to 18 months for approval, we have a specific leasing model in place. They can rent ELDICO’s electron diffractometer for a year or two at a very competitive rate and purchase it once the grant is disbursed. We are partnering with strong financial partners to make this a good deal for both ELDICO and the academic user. These arrangements are quite individual. We are happy to tailor them to a customer’s needs.
When can they expect ELDICO's instrument to be available? Are you taking orders?
Yes, we are! Despite a well-filled sales pipeline, we can keep our delivery times at less than six months. Please contact ELDICO's sales team for a quote.