There are several ways to analyze the structure of a substance. Optical spectroscopy measures the interaction of light with various materials. By analyzing the amount of light absorbed or emitted by a sample, we can determine what it’s made of and how much there is.
(Spectroscopy comes from the Latin for “ghost watcher.” In the 1600s, researchers who first observed light dispersing through a prism thought they were looking at ghosts.)
With inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES), a sample is vaporized and sprayed into a very hot plasma. The sample absorbs energy from the plasma and emits light. Different kinds of vaporized atoms will emit different patterns of light, which are then measured with a polychromator. The sample itself is destroyed when it is vaporized, so the more we can learn from a single analysis, the better.
The sample can be analyzed using a radial or an axial view. A radial view looks at the elongated plasma from the side (along its radius). An axial view looks at the plasma from the end (along its axis). Radial is considered more robust, while axial is considered more sensitive.
Agilent has just introduced a breakthrough new product, the Agilent 5100 ICP-OES. Among its many innovations, this ingenious instrument can run both axial and radial view analysis at the same time. As a result, analyses can be run 55 percent faster using 50 percent less gas per sample than competitive systems. “No other system on the market can match the performance – or the low cost of ownership – of the new 5100,” says Agilent’s Phil Binns. “Agilent has raised the bar with a system that sidesteps the usual compromises in speed and robustness associated with dual-view analysis.”
The 5100 ICP-OES is ideal for labs doing food, environmental and pharmaceuticals testing, as well as for mining and industrial applications. On July 29, Agilent will host a series of worldwide Webinars to demonstrate the new technology and its performance on environmental and food sample types.
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