Have you ever…?
Have you ever discovered a Neolithic workshop?
Dr. Richard Hark has. His work with SciAps LIBS has taken him from the laboratory to the field to study the obsidian and rhyolite associated with the tools and debitage revealed at archaeological sites. Analyzing the debris (or the actual artifacts when available) to determine the native source of the material can help researchers understand more about our predecessor’s interchange of goods from one location to another.
Have you ever tested a piece of wood for clues to a murder?
Researchers at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Science at the University of Tennessee were once called in to analyze an unusual piece of firewood: “LIBS analysis of wood figured prominently in a murder investigation in Collin County, Texas, in 2004 in which a suspect tried to dispose of a body by burning it on a pyre made from firewood. Ten logs were recovered from the crime scene along with four logs the suspect brought to a party near the time of the murder.” Thanks to cases like this, handheld LIBS is now an emerging tool for the forensic community.
Have you ever raced to develop a surface coating to fight the spread of a deadly pandemic?
Allied BioScience has. In 2020, they released SurfaceWise 2, the only EPA-approved surface coating that continuously kills coronavirus and other microbes. During their application to the EPA, Allied BioScience used the SciAps X-505 to measure coating thickness. Now SciAps has created a dedicated pass/fail app to simplify the operation, with data instantly sent to a cloud-based management system for real-time monitoring so operators know when to reapply the coating.
Have you ever held in your hand a piece of red marble from the King’s Quarry?
Gerard Moulzolf has. While consulting on the History Channel’s “Lost Gold of World War II,” Moulzolf used SciAps Z-300 to analyze an unusual rock sample, only to discover that it was excavated from the same quarry that King Louis XIV used for the red marble in the Palace of Versailles. How did it get to a cave in the Philippines? That’s the kind of mystery best left to the History Channel.
Have you ever used a spectrometer to read tea leaves?
Dr. Ying Guo has. Since tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world, Guo and her team hope to provide solid advice on the amount of tea that one should drink every day. They’ve deployed SciAps Z-300 across five popular tea brands to quantitatively determine the amount of both beneficial and contaminant elements in tea commonly available in U.S. supermarkets.
Have you ever used a LIBS to investigate where your cooking spices were grown?
Dr. Richard Hark has. Using the SciAps LIBS, Hark and one of his students analyzed samples of the globally popular cumin spice and were able to identify that India was the country of origin. “It is amazing that we could determine that. It could have come from many places,” says Hark. Country-of-origin tracing is elemental to global supply chain management, and SciAps handheld analyzers are proving to be an adept tool for the job, from determining gold provenance to compliance testing for electronics manufacturers.
Have you ever deployed a new instrument to suddenly solve an old problem—like instant detection of lead in tap water?
Dr. Marya Lieberman has. In fact, she and her student researchers created a test filter and used SciAps XRF to build a first-of-its-kind, on-site lead testing system for tap water that can pinpoint contamination between the source and the tap. “If we can get more people to participate in these tests, we could draw a map and figure out what parts of the water system are high in lead and what parts are not a problem and monitor the health of the water system on a regular basis,” says Lieberman.
Have you ever analyzed rocks on the moon?
Well, neither has Matthew Svensson. But, in 2019, Svensson and and the CanMoon team lead by Dr. Gordon Osinski and Dr. Ed Cloutis simulated the work of a lunar rover in the remote, volcanic landscape of Lanzarote, Spain. SciAps Z-300 provided quantitative measurements of the elemental compositions of rocks. “We used the SciAps LIBS to simulate what LIBS on a real rover would do and what kind of data it would return,” says Svensson, who credits SciAps software with uniquely expanding their testing capabilities. Funded by the Canadian Space Agency, the findings will be a resource for future space missions.
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