Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How to get motivated for work

Someone asked me the other day how I got motivated for work. It didn't come out of the blue, we've been having some serious mass spec problems we just can't figure out. Turns out now, the technician can't really figure it out either. I replied I have to get paid, just kind of as a joke. I didn't really have time to think about it.

Maybe it's actually competition. Not just from people around me in the present, but people in the past. Stories of old chemists discovering things, having moments of clearity, and thinking "eureka!" actually motivates me. Maybe if I don't give in to working and feeling like a slave I'll get better at what I'm doing. The only way to solve a problem is to see the answer. It's hard to keep an open vision and look at things in a new way when you give into the stress of work problems.

So, to get motivated for work, seek inspiration from the past.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Unheard of ICPMS drift: Rabbit Pump Drift

Fellow mass spectrometerists, check this out. I'm running some calibration standards and all the sudden, from the 100ppb to the 200ppb, internal standard recovery changes from 100% to 80%. Naturally thought it was sample introduction; checked for clogs, changed cones, changed to new nebuliser, still same drift, sometimes after 5 cups. Then it eventually, 5 cups or so, it kind of creeps back up around 100%.

Today, I was looking at the real time display, in deep thought while I watched the 115In and 209Bi signal intertwine bouncing across the 20 in. flat screen when I figured it out. I accessed the accessory window and switched the peristaltic pump into rabbit mode[1]. Sure enough, the signal drops, probably around 80%, but just going off counts per second at the time. Let it equilibrate and switch it back to regular pump speed, 24%. Oh, man, took like 3 or 4 minutes for the counts to get back up to where they were before rabbit pump.

Edited ACL script, no rabbit pump, calibrated fine, loaded samples, got to name a new type of drift: Rabbit Pump Drift.

I also named Seesaw Drift, this is when the low mass internal standards drift up while the high mass internal standards drift down, or the other way around.

[1] This is what the software that runs the ICPMS calls max speed pumping. Good for washing the probe during rinse.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Typical drift problems

Links to help solve drift problems: link 1 , Perkin Elmer, Spectroscopy magazine, PlasmaChem.
It's not the sample introduction, it can't be.

If you don't want to turn your head, translation for above, Wanted: Experienced Dog Catcher/Trapper to catch "one" small, smart, sneaky dog. Please call .... How great is that? Anybody up to it?

Random shot from the lab, do you think the guys who made this piece of equipment had a little laugh?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cones before and after

A sample cone looks like this after you clean it:
And a skimmer cone looks like this after some samples:
I think that is permanganate built up on there. Anybody else have an idea?