Dr. Gary Mabbott presents work at Pitcon 2014

March 17, 2014 / By: UST Chemistry Department

Dr. Gary Mabbott and undergraduate research student Maggie Malone-Povolny recently presented posters at Pitcon 2014 in Chicago, IL. Their titles and abstracts can be found below.

Microcontrollers in the Analytical Chemistry Teaching Lab

Gary A. Mabbott
Department of Chemistry, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN 55105

Microcontrollers are powerful programmable devices that can automate equipment and perform data acquisition.  Over the past decade increased memory storage has enabled the use of object-oriented programming languages on these devices, thereby making them easier to use.  More recently commercial microcontroller boards have become available loaded with connectors and accessory components for enhancing communication between the microcontroller and other equipment.  Because these boards are well-supported on-line and are inexpensive (typically $30-$50) they offer a convenient and versatile approach to interfacing computers to lab experiments.  This presentation will demonstrate several example applications for teaching lab automation and basic electronics in the context of an instrumental analysis course.  Interfacing projects include acquisition and manipulation of photometric data, an auto-titration system, a PCR thermal cycler, control of stepper motors for syringe pumps and sample collection.  Classroom exercises and device limitations will also be discussed.

Development of a SERS Technique for the Quantitative Analysis of Bidentate Compounds
Maggie Malone-Povolny and Gary Mabbott, Department of Chemistry, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN 55105

Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) is a technique that has been commonly used to identify compounds in extremely small concentrations.  However, the use of this technique as a method of quantitative analysis has not been fully explored.  By adding an internal standard to a SERS system, this project hopes to make quantitative analysis both possible and simple.  By comparing the ration of the intensities of the peaks associated with the standard and the analyte, we can generate a calibration curve.  The initial species that will be examined is dopamine, a neurotransmitter being investigated as a treatment option for Parkinson’s disease.  In the blood stream during a treatment cycle, dopamine is present in very small concentrations, but needs to be measured with great precision and accuracy.  Measuring dopamine in this way is one of many applications that this project’s set up will be able to address.