Technology Forum: UV-Vis

August 11, 2009

Joining us for this discussion are Luis Moreno, Hitachi High Technologies America, Inc.; Benno Oderkerk, Avantes; and Alan Marks, Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Used throughout the world of materials analysis, UV-Vis instrumentation and techniques can be found wherever analytical chemistry is performed. And with a steady stream of new applications being discovered, this technique will be a mainstay of the industry for years to come.

Joining us for this discussion are Luis Moreno, Hitachi High Technologies America, Inc.; Benno Oderkerk, Avantes; and Alan Marks, Thermo Fisher Scientific.

What have been some of the greatest areas of growth in the use of UV-Vis in the past year?

Moreno: Biotech research continues to be a strong segment for UV-Vis applications. When looking for instruments, customers will look for low volume and ease of operation, as well as reliability and affordability. New applications are emerging in the area of energy, such as solar and fuel cells. This area has great potential for growth as part of the efforts to minimize dependence on fossil fuels and for a cleaner environment.

Oderkerk: The greatest areas of growth were biomedical, non-invasive diagnoses, and plasma monitoring.

Marks: Even though UV-Vis is a mature technique, there continue to be areas of growth and innovation. The greatest area of growth and innovation in recent years has been in microsampling. Small volume measurements of DNA and proteins have been a requirement of life science customers for decades. However, these were often very difficult and time consuming due to the available techniques, such as short pathlength ultramicro cuvettes. As a result of pioneering developments by my company, UV-Vis measurements of DNA and proteins can now be accomplished routinely from a single drop of material. An entire microsampling segment of the UV-Vis market was born and continues as a significant growth segment as other applications for microsampling are being developed.

As a “workhorse” technique in the materials analysis laboratory, UV-vis has a wide variety of applications. What are some of the most significant recent developments in UV-vis?

Moreno: The UV-Vis instrumentation has improved along with the availability of more advanced electronic components and software. The major advances are related to material analysis providing new accessories to handle new types of measurements, such as diffuse reflectance and specular reflectance at multiple angles, as well as custom software to provide final results with less effort and faster time.

Energy-savings related measurements, such as reflectance of solar radiation, are areas of renewed interest as demands for energy efficiency have increased.

Oderkerk: The most significant recent development was high resolution deep UV spectrometers for LIBS (laser induced breakdown spectroscopy).

Marks: UV-Vis as a technique is used routinely for a myriad of measurements and applications of materials including nanomaterials, optical materials and semiconductors, plastics, glass, and textiles. As the global awareness for the importance of providing materials for UV protection of the skin and eyes increases, the significance of the use of UV-Vis as a technique will increase.

What do you think is the best new feature in UV-vis instrumentation? Why?

Moreno: In my opinion, the best new feature in UV-Vis instrumentation is the capability to measure small sample volumes. It is important to be able to use small volume DNA samples to make determinations, as well as use less of expensive reagents.

Oderkerk: Very low straylight performance, this competes with high-end systems.

Marks:Not only is microsampling the most significant growth area, but it also has to be the best new feature in recent years. Ease and convenience of analysis and the requirement for less material are significant advantages.

What impact has multimodal spectroscopy (MMS) had on UV-vis applications?

Moreno:I think eventually some of the current applications could move into multimodal spectroscopy; however, it all depends on the pricing for future multimodal spectrometers. This could have a similar effect as the micro-plate instrumentation had in the traditional UV-Vis. It will have some effect, but the simplest and most affordable will prevail.

Marks:I do not believe multimodal spectroscopy (MMS) has had a significant impact on the development of new applications. Because of the speed of analysis and potential advantages for long-term cost of ownership, more and more routine QA/QC applications have been converted over to MMS techniques incorporating PDA or CCD detection technologies. As the cost of these techniques continues to decrease, the installed base of techniques using MMS will increase.

Do you see more applications emerging for single-beam or for double-beam UV-vis?

Moreno:As we make advances in drug discovery, biotech research, and new energy sources, UV-Vis will be there as a low-cost, reliable analytical technique to support advancements in those fields. The existing applications for traditional UV-Vis will continue to be supported by improved instruments, software, and accessories.

Oderkerk:I think there will be more applications for single beam UV-Vis spectroscopy.

Marks:I do not see the development of new applications driving the selection of single-beam or double-beam UV-Vis systems. Cost of ownership and overall sampling requirements will tend to drive whether the instrument technique incorporates single-beam or double-beam technologies. Lower-end and lower-cost systems will tend toward single-beam and upper-end products, especially in materials measurements, will tend more toward double-beam. Research customers who have applications, which may push the instrument to its limits, will tend toward double-beam systems.

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