Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 29th

This morning, I analyzed the results from my first tests on the real samples. Unfortunately, the machine was not properly calibrated to work well at such low concentrations. The pattern we were expecting to see was for the magnesium concentrations to increase across the series, and for the cobalt and phosphorus concentrations to decrease. The data slightly resembled these trends, but it was also riddled with confusing negative values. These negative values are what suggest that the machine is not calibrated properly. After lunch, I set out to see if the machine could be calibrated to be accurate at very small concentrations. I diluted my previous calibration series X100, because that is more around the range we are dealing with. This is because we diluted the samples X100 to try and conserve the sample if possible. I ran the tests this afternoon, and from my first look, it appears that the machine works quite well at the single parts per billion range, which is impressive. I should be able to start getting realistic data on the real samples tomorrow. One problem that I did have yesterday was that as I was running the real samples, the plasma torch was burning bright orange, and it seemed much stronger than normal. This is disturbing both because it could be damaging the machine, and it will almost definitely throw the results off slightly. I also got a strange error about mercury lines this morning, but it seems everything is alright.

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