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Chromatographic and Other Analytical Capabilities

Most radiolysis experiments yield reaction products in the micromolar or lower concentration range. Usually this is done deliberately: Radiation doses intense enough to produce higher yields also produce concentrations of radicals large enough to interact with each other instead of other solute molecules. However, such low concentrations place a considerable demand on the analytical resources of the radiation chemist.

At the Radiation Laboratory, a number of chromatographic and spectroscopic tools are in use to detect and analyze minute concentrations of reaction products. High-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) or capillary electrophoresis are employed to separate products and quantify yields. Detection techniques applied to the separated samples include optical absorption spectroscopy, refractive index measurement, and mass spectrometry. Each of these methods has its own strengths and weaknesses. Optical absorption is probably the most informative, except for molecules that have no significant absorption spectrum in the visible or near-UV wavelengths.

Ion chromatography is a variant of HPLC which uses conductivity to analyze for the presence of ions, particularly inorganic ions, in solution. In the radiolysis of halogenated organic molecules, for instance, the ion chromatograph of the halide ions is an excellent way to measure yields of halo-organic destruction processes.
Several gas chromatographs and a GC/mass spectrograph are available for separation and detection of volatile samples.


Supported by the Division of
Chemical Sciences
Office of
Basic Energy Sciences
at the
U.S. Department of Energy

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Radiation Laboratory
Univ. of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Tel: (574) 631-6163
Fax: (574) 631-8068

Last Modified: 06/28/2010



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