For experimental scientists, being hands-on in the lab is the very essence of what makes science interesting. Whether you are madly running all your instruments at their maximum throughput or having a contemplative moment thinking about how to design your next set of experiments, doing some careful sample preparation or cleaning equipment and tidying up, the lab is your zone. The smells and sounds of the lab can link your thought process to the problem at hand. Busy in the lab you are doing something and this ‘doing’ is a vital action for an experimental scientist.

Malvern Panalytical laboratory

So how are people coping in lockdown?

Have you brought experimentation home? Are you measuring food and following recipes with an unnatural focus on precision? You will need to channel your inner scientist into activities at home whether you are doing it consciously or subconsciously.

A self-installed Mastersizer 3000 at home

It is usually not possible to take experimental equipment home. Some equipment can be accessed remotely, and if you are not set up for it now, it may be too late to do this for today, but it is something to investigate when you get the chance. Sample handling is challenging, but processing batches may be possible, and sample handling equipment may be available to allow you to set up systems for batch measurement. If you find that your access to the lab is reduced, for instance, due to social distancing measures, then being able to set up a batch when you finally get into the lab might be extremely valuable.

Automated systems and batch processing are often an afterthought when procuring instruments. They can be seen as a luxury. But as we enter a new normal in which the movement of people is being rationed, they may become a lab necessity.

By automating your lab just a little, you can already save time. This video is an example of how we did it with an Epsilon 4.

At Malvern Panalytical we have a range of options for sample handling and automation and some of our instruments can be controlled remotely. Virtual experimentation may not offer everything that being in the lab can, but it may be the way to go. Ask us what we can offer you!