Once again, we'd like to take you through a challenging project one of our colleagues is working on. This time you can read all about Anwar Koshakji who develops smart algorithms to determine the elements of a sample in a microscope.
Anwar moved to the Netherlands in January and a month later he started a project at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Eindhoven via ENTER. Thermo Fisher is, among other things, a global supplier of scientific instruments such as the complex transmission electron microscopes (TEM). These instruments are used by many institutes worldwide, including in the research on the British variant on the coronavirus.
Electrons instead of light
Transmission electron microscopes work differently from normal microscopes. A normal microscope works with light, while a TEM uses electrons. Anwar explains: "Accelerating a beam of electrons onto the sample in the microscope creates interactions with the atoms of the material, which emit photons (X-rays). The microscope then detects the emitted photons that contain a certain energy depending on the type of material you are examining. Based on this energy, the microscope creates a plot, this is the spectrum. Spectroscopy is used to analyze this spectrum. Different colors appear on the screen of the microscope that each represent a particular element from the periodic table. This way you can easily determine all the elements in the material."
In the background, all kinds of calculations are made on the spectrum and the results appear on the microscope's screen. As Scientific Software Engineer, Anwar develops algorithms and works on the software for this spectroscopy analysis. He is not only involved in the development and implementation of the software, but also with the physics and mathematical models behind the software. Together with his team, he invents new functionalities and improves existing ones. "The end goal is to be able to obtain as much information about the spectrum as possible in the most reliable way," says Anwar.
After developing the software, Anwar and his team track down and fix bugs in the system. They also support the end users of the microscopes in troubleshooting and answer their questions. Later in the project, Anwar will also become an active part of the team developing the Graphical User Interface. In total, more than 50 people are working on the Application Software Division, the division Anwar is working in, divided into several teams. "The teams at Thermo Fisher are very diverse, both in terms of origin and educational background," says Anwar. "Everyone makes their own contribution and we can learn a lot from each other. Together we really make the perfect combination."