Tomsk , Polytechnical University
Researchers from Siberia have developed a compact, reliable and very convenient device. It helps to promptly and easily identify the content of various microelements from arsenic through zinc - in a sample.
Send mail Scientist: Nina Kolpakova, Doctor of Science (Chemistry) , Tomsk

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A remarkable device has been produced in Tomsk at the TOMANALITresearch-and-production enterprise. This is the so-called voltamperometric analyzer. Its main task is to determine microelement content of the object. A device (compact and accurate in a European style) enables to measure negligibly low concentrations of almost two dozens of elements, including arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead, stibium, bismuth and even palladium and gold. Besides, samples may be very small, ten milliliters at the most (normally even less than that), but this is sufficient to measure the content of a definable element to the level of one tenth of the maximum allowable concentration and less that that. The authors talked about the device capabilities at the VIIth All-Russian Conference on Electrochemical Analysis Methods EMA-2008, which took place this summer in Abzakovo (Republic of Bashkortostan).

The principle the device operation is based on is not new, this is typical electrochemistry. Speaking in a very simplified way, electrodes are plunged into the sample solution, the voltage on electrodes being different. By studying dependence of current strength in the electrolytic cell on the electrode potential, one can learn not only what particular electrochemically active substances are present in the solution, but also identify their quantity. It is well-known that it is far cry from the principle to the device, besides, devices can vary in capabilities. This device is very good because in a certain sense a single device replaces several specialized ones at once. In other words, the device is multi-purpose.

In fact, not all elements can be determined by one and the same electrode, therefore, the set includes several electrodes, moreover, the methods somewhat differ from one another. However, this is a single device. To help the users master the device quickly and without problem, the developers have recorded a DVD training film (everything described to the minutest detail, four hours of video materials), and in addition to that, they have drawn up a manual on the method in general and on the device operation in particular.

On the whole, the authors made sure that the device works long and reliably it is designed for intense operation. Therefore the analyzer body is made of rust-proofing steel (due to which neither chemical nor mechanical effect threatens the device), the device is resistant to electrostatic and electromagnetic interference). As per the most delicate elements electrodes the researches have invented special caps that allow to keep and install electrodes without touching their work surface.

A distinctive feature of a new analyzer is three electrochemical cells at once. It means that it is possible to simultaneously analyze three different samples or to get three results per the same solution. The ones who heard the words statistical confidence will assess the opportunity to get three measurements at once rather than consecutively time and effort saving is quite significant. Besides, some elements concentration can be measured in general based on a single sample solution. This is applicable to cadmium, lead, copper and zinc. This is very convenient.

To further extend the device capabilities, the authors added an add-on to it, which enables to measure of solutions, to determine their conductivity and to solve a number of other tasks. So, an individual instrument will not be needed. Indeed, the device is a real universal all-round craftsman, a reliable workhorse for analysts and ecologists.


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