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The stability of a flame photometer and its effect on reproducibility

In flame photometry, the stability of your flame can be affected by a huge range of different factors. So today we go over the stability of a flame photometer and its effect on reproducibility.


In this blog, we will look at one practical factor and one totally impractical one. How the machining of parts can affect the stability, as well as the sheer randomness of particle interactions.


The best way to discuss how parts are machined and put together is to look at variations in hand-crafted items.


For example, a potter could make two identical pots. However, are these two pots actually identical? It depends on how closely you wish to analyse the differences.


When applying this train of thought to photometry and analytical chemistry, the answer is, in as much detail as possible.


In a perfect world, we would have every single atom in the exact same place in our instruments. This would make them as uniform as possible, so mechanical factors in the instrument itself do not cause fluctuations.

Chemical Mixture

How is stability affected in flame photometry?


The burner head of a flame photometer has the most impact upon the flame’s shape.


When manufacturing these heads, any small error in drilling or shaping the final exit point - such as an unremoved burr of metal on the tip - could cause a point.


The gas could hit this point and shoot off in a random direction. This would cause the flame to flicker which, of course, we would like to keep to an absolute minimum.


Another example of how parts could affect the stability is the air compressor.


The air compressor may not emit a constant flow of pressure from its exit. Instead, it may be emitting a wave of high- and low-pressure waves.


When this comes to be burnt, the fuel/air mixture will alternate rapidly. This would cause a massive problem when trying to make a flame as static as possible.



What is randomness in chemistry?


Let's explore just how random things get when they are scaled down.


After all, we are looking at what is basically an interaction between clusters of balls hitting other clusters of balls. If that collision has sufficient energy, then a reaction will occur.


When you scale things down to this molecular level, things get messy, which is why chemists prefer to look at things in the unit of Moles.


Even if we had two cylinders filled with the exact same quantity of molecules of gas, the two cylinders’ contents would never feasibly be in the exact same juxtaposition as the other cylinder.


So, there are always going to be things which are out of our control - no matter how hard we try to fix them.


We can always strive to reduce these factors in the quest of getting a perfect product. However, there will come a point when trying to refine something further becomes futile in comparison to the actual result, gained by fixing something so small.