Hello friends, my name is Gurfateh and I am a Product Marketing Manager for the micrometrics group at Malvern Instruments. Before I came to Malvern, I was working as a Senior Analytical Chemist, engaging regularly with method development and validation activities within the pharmaceutical analytical development sector.
I have some very exciting news that I would like to share with the Mastersizer users out there, or anyone thinking of getting a new instrument. A new software update for the trusted Mastersizer 3000 has just been released. It is not just any old regular update, but one which is very close to my heart being a method developer until very recently.
As a method developer, besides all the common questions that we have to find answers to, like wet/dry dispersion, sonication/ air pressure etc., we have to go deeper and look at the refractive index of sample and dispersant, and also the imaginary refractive index (absorption) for a sample, for the correct application of Mie theory. Most Mastersizer users will remember re-calculating the results using a variety of different refractive indices based on previous knowledge used for similar samples and also looking online for clues about possible refractive indices.
This is the exciting bit: there is a software update now available on the Malvern website which not only fixes a number of known bugs, but also introduces new capabilities, like the Optical Property Optimizer (OPO), Result Emulation Function (REF) and all new Miniguides.
The OPO will now be able to aid the user to determine the optical properties more quickly from a starting point, to prevent the user from ending up with a huge number of recalculated results which then need to be looked at several times and compared before making a decision. The OPO allows the user to determine the correct properties faster and ultimately save valuable time.
Sounds interesting? The OPO not only allows you to drag optical properties (as shown in the picture above) used in the calculation of the selected results on an interactive graph, but also to see how the data changes in real time. This will provide assistance in defining a best fit for the sample with respect to the prediction by the theory, ensuring that the method developed is robust and reproducible over its life time.
I would like to share a personal experience to show you why I am so excited about this feature. We recently worked on the particle size distribution of titanium dioxide in a number of white paint samples from the coatings industry. The refractive index of titanium dioxide can vary depending on its source, so we could not just have one SOP for all the samples. Prior to OPO, this would have resulted in a lot of time spent in the lab optimising the optical properties for each sample. With the new software update, the OPO helped to determine ‘the correct’ optical property for each sample in a short span of time without having to create a large number of result sets for a sample. So we could be assured that our analysis was done accurately and a lot of time was saved for other things from the never-ending ‘to do list.’
You can see the software in action in the video below: