Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Access to equipment outside of academia

Various - 6-10-2009 at 09:31

Hi all,

Is there anything like a listing of people who have equipment such as for instance IR spectroscopes, chromatographs or mass spectrometers and would be willing to do analyses for experimenters that send them samples to test?

It seems to me that if a person wants to do experimentation in chemistry but is not in academia, and cannot use an employer's equipment for personal experiments, it would help to have a list of people who could help.


wpenrose - 6-10-2009 at 13:25

Many large universities have arrangements for outsiders to use their equipment, though these facilities are directed at corporations. Typically, they charge an hourly rate plus an 'instructional fee', which is what it costs for someone to stand over you until they're sure you can operate the instrument. Typical rates, about 7 or 8 years ago, were $75 to $100 an hour.

You'd need to prove your chemistry creds to them, perhaps by explaining your project. Since most of these facilities are loosely administered, they might let and indie chemist use them for a lesser charge, or none.

Dangerous Bill

MJ_ - 6-10-2009 at 22:51

I Agree with the above. I think the only luck you will get with this type of thing is the use of universities facilities. However i dont know if they would let you use the instrument. I have the feeling you are charged a fee, you give them the sample and they give you the results.

bquirky - 7-10-2009 at 20:33

Alot of the time at university's the paperwork involved for charging people for anything is so much of a pain that you might get lucky on a friday afternoon and use the equipment for free. especially if you can find a person that is interested in what you are doing.

I know our lab often lets people use our OSA (Spectrum analiser) and interferometric systems. we had a 'biological artist' who was demonstrating the pezio electric effect in cow bones ! wanting to use one of our optical setups to record the week vibrations of the bone while it was playing music. it worked too :)

I guess the hard part is finding the right person to ask.

DDTea - 9-10-2009 at 14:23

If you take a look at eBay, there are actually some *old* IR and UV/Vis spectrophotometers available. They don't have fancy digital displays or ports to hook to your computer, but they can get the job done. They aren't too expensive either; the last time checked, I found several for less than $100. This doesn't include the cost of cuvettes (you'd be surprised how much these things can cost you--especially a nice quartz one!).

As far as mass spec goes, suffice to say that's expensive. I had a professor who often runs samples on a contract basis, and that's how he brings in his money to pay his lab workers!

I did an experiment in my quantum chemistry lab where we used a He-Ne laser (a gentle class II device) to track the change in refractive index of a reacting species (specifically, the hydrolysis of glycidol to glycerin). We simply set the laser to shine through the reaction vessel and tracked its change over time on graph paper. We were interested in the kinetics data, but this is more broadly a simple way to monitor a reaction. The procedure is actually really easy and the paper we worked off of was in the Journal of Chemical Education. I don't know how widely applicable it is, but I have a strong feeling some people here might be interested simply because the equipment costs are so low. Also, refractive index is often a characteristic physical property of a compound (in situations where you KNOW what you are looking for, at least).

zed - 9-10-2009 at 15:55

Personally, I once attended a small California Community College, that was very well endowed, and also quite generous with the use of their facilities.

If you knew how to use the equipment in question, a short discussion with a professor, would probably result in permission to use their instrument room.

They had a lot of advanced equipment, that was very seldom used.

Yeah, they would prefer it if you registered for a class. That, would result in their obtaining a bunch of money from state and local government, but they weren't very rigid about it.

Try asking!

Various - 13-10-2009 at 06:44

Quote: Originally posted by zed  
Personally, I once attended a small California Community College, that was very well endowed, and also quite generous with the use of their facilities.

I've had some experience with community colleges in California. They are generally pretty good and the tuition (used to be?) quite low, around $17 per unit. People there understand that a little populism goes a long way.

I'm curious, which one did you see this equipment at?