Saturday, April 7, 2007

Tantalizing Technology in Thailand

So may ask yourself, "Self? What is Cory doing in Thailand? Did he accomplish anything?"

Lucky for you and yourself, I'm here to answer that... with song!

No, I'm just kidding. No songs. Here's a picture of the instrument's innards:

That's Dom's hand there on the left. A lot of the parts come from Champaign, IL, that I brought along with me or that were sent to me (thanks Christine!). The green laser source for this I got off of eBay from China, and the rusty ring stand parts have been purloined from some Gen. Chem. 101 labs here in Chiang Mai. The flow-injection analysis system is from Dr. Grudpan's labs and is Dom's specialty. You can basically think of it as an HPLC pump if you need a frame of reference. That of course means we're working with much larger volumes and pressures than I'm used to.

The laser is actually firing in that pic, but you can't really tell. Here's the system with the lights off:

Now, I've learned an important lesson as I've worked in another country about finding common ground between cultures. And when I say "cultures" I mean "metric vs. english machining," and when I say "common ground" I of course mean "teflon tape."

That's right. Got an M6 bolt that needs to go into a 9/16th's hole? Teflon tape to the rescue! Got a 1-inch optic that needs to fit inside a 3-cm housing? Teflon tape is there to help! And when the teflon tape is used up you can cut the empty roll in half, drill some holes, and make a capillary cell holder out of it.

Not impressed? Well, how about we fire a laser through it and pump some sulphorhodamine 101 label through the puppy.

Yeah, I'm all about the visual stimulus pictures. Now, some smart ass wants to ask me right now "What's your Limit of Detection?" and right now its 46nM for SR-101. Go ahead and laugh. But that's about the best I can do with a single 10x microscope objective to collect the light, no secondary objective or camera lens setup, and a cylindrical detection cell that has to be 500um in diameter.

I still got a week and I'm going to improve the wiring on the photodiode-to-DAq board (actual source of noise) and try to hook this puppy up to a C18 column and separate some labeled BSA or something with the FIA system.

Blah blah blah. My readers are getting bored, and with good reason. Who likes chemistry talk when there are home movies of pee-wee hockey fights to be watched?

Blades of Steel!

Oh yeah, the lab threw a little lunch party for me last Thursday as next week is some sort of Thailand water festival and few of the grad students will be here. They gave me a Chiang Mai University shirt and a Chemistry department crystal commemorative plate. Here's a pic of me with the whole Grudpan lab crew.

I'm like a gigantic but adorable Yeti.