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Hamilton Receives Atomic Absorption Spectrometer


Science students returned this fall to find a significant addition to the analytical capabilities of the Chemistry Department: a PerkinElmer AAnalyst 600 Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrometer.

The instrument, donated by ICON, plc, enables users to detect and quantify trace elements in water, soil and sediments, and other matrices. In particular, faculty in the Chemistry, Biology and Geosciences Departments will use it in instructional labs and student-led research projects to identify lead in drinking water and natural environmental sources. They will also use it to test lake waters for copper and manganese.

Given the recent national concern around the elemental toxicity of public water sources, the spectrometer increases the ability of students and faculty to investigate important and relevant environmental and chemical issues. 

The donation was coordinated by Hamilton’s Instrumentation Specialist Greg Rahn, with Robert Kulawy and Michael Brown of ICON, a worldwide contract research organization for pharmaceutical discovery and development with a laboratory located in nearby Whitesboro, N.Y. The instrument is valued at about $125,000.

Sciences Instrumentation Technician Bruce Wegter and Master Maintenance Mechanic Foreperson Jim Melvin assisted with the installation of the instrument in the physical chemistry instructional lab (TSC 1048) in early July.

Rahn and summer research student Matt Bleich ’18 completed testing and calibration of the instrument with several different elemental standards. Trace detection of copper reference solutions demonstrated fundamental instrument operation. Method development directed toward ultra-trace detection of lead in water sources ended up accomplishing low part-per-billion detection levels.

Bleich’s work was supported through the Edward and Virginia Taylor Fund for Student/Faculty Research in Chemistry. Support for installation costs and supplies came from the Dean of Faculty Office, in part through a Class of 1963 Faculty Fellowship to Associate Professor of Chemistry Adam Van Wynsberghe.

The spectrometer is in use this fall for laboratory sections of Chemistry 125, Principles of Chemistry: Fundamentals to Applications. 

Anyone interested in using the instrumentation should contact Greg Rahn, 315-859-4699.

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