FEI Co. of Hillsboro, Ore., and Malvern Instruments Ltd. of Malvern, England, have signed a joint development and marketing program for advanced nanoparticle analysis using Malvern's particle image analysis software on FEI's line of Quanta scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), the companies announced today. It is the first time Malvern software has been applied to another company's instruments, Malvern officials said. The software is currently in use with traditional optical microscopes, and will be optimized for FEI's Quanta SEMs. "As the size of materials used in product development and manufacturing continues to move from the microscale into the nanoscale, there is an increasing need for characterization tools that move beyond the limits of light microscopy," said Matt Harris, FEI's vice president of worldwide marketing and business development. "This combination of FEI and Malvern technologies provides a powerful process and quality control tool for a growing number of nano-enabled products that are moving into production." These systems provide rapid data on particle size and morphology and yield distribution profiles for quality control and manufacturing applications. Rationalizing batch-to-batch variation of materials and identifying crystal polymorphisms and foreign bodies are some of the current applications. The bundled product will be released later this year.