Modular QCM-D instrument design allows scientists to grow with their research
Jennie Ringberg Sep 12, ’23 > 7 min

Modular QCM-D instrument design allows scientists to grow with their research

Investment in an advanced piece of scientific equipment, such as a QCM-D instrument, can be a success factor for science and innovation. There can, however, be uncertainties regarding what instrument configuration and capabilities that will be needed long-term to support the scientific work and project paths that are yet unknown. To lower the investment barrier and enable more users to benefit from the QCM-D technology, we developed QSense Omni, our 4th generation QCM-D platform which is a modular and upgradeable instrument suite that allows scientists to grow with their research. 

Maximizing the chances of the QCM-D instrument configuration to cover all potential future needs can be unnecessarily expensive

An investment in a piece of advanced scientific equipment, such as QSense QCM-D, is most likely made with the vision that the instrument will contribute with valuable information for many years to come. Depending on the scientific field or industrial area, however, the ability to predict the future needs in terms of hardware configurations and capabilities can be a challenge. Depending on the scientific field, or research area, and structure of the organization, the hardware configuration needs may change as the scientific field evolves, the research takes on a different direction, or the need of throughput increases. At the same time, there is a driver for research to be more and more interdisciplinary in both universities, research institutes, and in commercial laboratories [1]

One way to secure the long-term usability of the QCM-D setup is of course to invest in the best possible, most advanced instrument configuration, from the start, i.e., aim for the widest specification and include all accessories available to maximize capacity in terms of throughput and capabilities. As the price tag of this configuration will be high though, this approach can be unnecessarily expensive. There is also a risk of over-investment, i.e., investing in more instrument capacity than the long-term need demands.

How to reduce the risk of overinvestment and increase chances of a future-proof QCM-D setup

Another approach to secure that the future equipment-needs are met, while at the same time minimizing the cost of investment and eliminating the risk of over-investment, is for us as instrument supplier to design a versatile, and upgradable platform, i.e., to offer a modular QCM-D platform where the setup configurations are based on current user needs. This could be based on an entry-level configuration which can be expanded with additional capacity in terms of throughput and expanded specification and configuration whereafter the user needs arise, if they arise.

Lower the investment barrier by implementing a modular and versatile platform

With the ambition to provide QCM-D instrumentation which delivers value for many, many years to come, we designed a modular platform, offering maximal automation and performance even if the user chooses to start with the base configuration, while at the same time having wide-ranging possibilities to expand both throughput and adding on versatility which will meet the unique needs to measure at a broad range of conditions.

Product design and features implemented to support a modular, versatile and upgradeable QCM-D platform

  1. Designed to support various throughput needs
    QSense Omni has a modular design. It consists of a base unit and one to four measurement channels. The measurement channels can operate independently which means that it is possible to start with the 1-channel instrument and then easily upgrade to a multichannel instrument if there is a need for higher throughput.

  2. Designed to support combination measurements and a broad range of measurement conditions
    The platform is designed for flexibility and allows the user to add on to the instrument as the needs grow. QSense offers a range of modules and accessories to enable combination measurements or allowing access to the sensor surface or the possibility to place the sensor in a specific environment. The accessory ALD holder is directly compatible with QSense Omni and the modules can be used with QSense Omni together with the add-on chamber QSense Orbit.

Compatible QSense modules:

  • Window module for optical access
  • Electrochemistry module for EQCM-D
  • Window Electrochemistry module for optical access and EQCM-D
  • PTFE module for a flow module without Ti
  • Open module for direct sensor access
  • Humidity module for exposing the sensor to humid conditions specified by the user
  • ALD holder for QCM-D measurements during atomic layer deposition

Concluding remarks

Investment in cutting-edge scientific equipment, such as a QCM-D instrument, can significantly contribute to the success of scientific research and foster innovation. However, uncertainties regarding the long-term needs of the instrument in supporting scientific efforts and potential projects that are yet to be explored may impede investment; the hardware configuration requirements could evolve over time based on the scientific field, research direction, organizational structure, and the increasing demand for throughput. To overcome this challenge and enable more users to benefit from the QCM-D technology, we developed QSense 4th generation QCM-D, a modular and versatile platform, with possibilities to upgrade or add-on additional capabilities as the needs arise, if they arise.

Download the technical whitepaper to learn more about QSense Omni features and design.

QSense Omni
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