Hello! A few months ago I blogged about my up and coming visit to Australia and I promised to let you know if I made it to the top of the Sydney Harbour bridge – I am not sure where the time as flown to since then but I thought it was about time I let you know how the trip went.
One of the reasons I headed down under was to give 12 seminars; 4 each in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane – the team at ATA Scientific did a great job in organising all of those!
The other reason for the trip was to provide training in Morphologically Directed Raman Spectroscopy (MDRS) to the new owners of a Morphologi G3-ID at Southern Cross University. In the picture to the left you can see Andrew Rose and Nadia Toppler from Southern Cross University and me gathered round the instrument. Andrew is Associate Professor in the GeoScience department, while Nadia is Technical Officer for the Environmental Analysis Lab.
The first application we looked at was to find out whether a powder sample of Calcium carbonate was composed of a single form or mix of more than one form. Well from the Raman spectra below you can see from the different peaks that we clearly found two different forms were present.
Next we looked at a sample that was actually destined for X-Ray Diffraction analysis. We wanted to know if it contained any calcium carbonate. It was dispersed dry, using the integrated sample dispersion unit and analysed by MDRS where spectra we had generated from the previous analysis were used for the reference library. Well it became clear very quickly that the sample most definitely contained rather a lot of calcium carbonate, and in addition we were easily able to generate the particle size and shape distributions of the calcium carbonate particles that were present.
Finally we were asked if the system could help automate a microscope based analysis counting and characterising Trichodesmium, a globally significant, filamentous cyanobacterium (blue-green alga) that inhabits warm waters in the tropical oceans. Researching the growth and morphology of this organism in laboratory cultures is helping understand how it acquires and uses essential nutrients in its natural environment. Current manual analysis is tedious, error-prone, time consuming and statistically unreliable. A full experiment to characterise 18 cultures takes up to 2 weeks.
We successfully managed to perform the analysis on the Morphologi G3-ID presenting the sample in the wet cell accessory. The Morphologi offered several major advantages:
- Minimal sample preparation avoiding the need to filter the cultures onto membranes
- automated analysis – time normally spent looking down a microscope and processing images can be used for other things
- statistically meaningful measurements of filament length and width
- time of analysis of around 30 minutes so all 18 cultures can be analysed in a single day, permitting much more frequent monitoring of changes in the organism during the course of experiments.
Below is an image of a Trichodesmium filament. More details on the application can be found in this app note.
You can read here about how the Morphologi G3-ID has benefited the School of Science, Environment and Engineering at Southern Cross University since our training session in May. Andrew Rose said of the instrument, “The automated microscopy and image analysis functions are especially popular and have saved countless hours compared with using manual microscopy techniques.” Another bit of good news is that the Environmental Analysis Laboratory at Southern Cross University are planning to offer contract testing on the Morphologi G3-ID (as well as Zetasizer and Mastersizer) and would be delighted to work with you if you are required automated imaging or MDRS analysis.
I really enjoyed this trip, helped by the fact I was out of the UK for the very, very wet May back holiday and instead I was able to enjoy the start of the Australian winter, all 25 °C of it. For once on this trip I was also able to see some of the surroundings. At home I play netball but I was amazed to see the sport has such a strong showing in Sydney – 69 courts in one location all in action at the time. No wonder Australia won the common wealth games. The beaches were fabulous, buildings such the Sydney Opera House look so different up close and the view from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was amazing.